In 2003, Dr. Michael Roy, a conservation biologist with over fifteen years of academic experience, founded CREA, an environmentally focused 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Having witnessed the rapid destruction of the Earth’s natural resources firsthand, he decided to found CREA to promote common sense conservation that is good for the planet and good for human societies.
Panama is a small country but has a strategically important role as a fragile biodiversity corridor between the Amazon and Mexico. Panama comprises less than 0.5% of the world’s terrestrial surface but possesses between 7 and 10% of all known life forms and 200 distinct ecosystems.
Within this land base, Panama contains two of the world’s recognized global biodiversity hotspots – areas of immensely high and often unique biodiversity that is under considerable threat by human activity. The region also has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world – losing an average of 1.9% of its forest cover per year. A major contributor to deforestation is the practice of slash and burn – a common traditional technique used by campesinos (farmers) to clear land for farming and pastures. This practice not only destroys mega-diverse primary rainforest, but depletes the soil of its vital nutrients forcing farmers to move deeper into the forest every few years in search of fertile soil to support them and their families.
In recognition of the need to effectively balance people and nature, CREA believes a holistic approach is necessary for sustainable conservation. CREA’s approach addresses the need for the balance of community prosperity in conjunction with species conservation. Through a combination of education, research and outreach, CREA uses science as a basepoint for training and working with all of its stakeholders. CREA understands the need for respect and incorporation of local culture in order to teach new behaviors that will have long-term impact.