|Luxurian vegetation in the Darien Gap. (Photo: Naked Man in the Tree)|
|The Darien Gap (Photo: Wikipedia)|
A corridor of jungle between Panama and Colombia roamed by guerrillas and narcotraffickers and home to great natural biodiversity, the Darien is the one untamed segment left between Alaska and Tierra del Fuego. Bicyclists making the epic tour from one end of the Americas to the other have to get off for this one stretch and take a ferry between the Panamanian and Colombian coasts.
But that may soon change, because of a thirst for money and electricity. Colombia and Panama are planning to build a power line to carry electricity from Colombia, which abounds with hydroelectric power, to Panama and eventually as far north as Mexico.
The economic incentives are clear and immediate, but the environmental and social impacts will come only later.
|A native Embera girl in |
Panama's Darien Province.
Plans for the $450 million project are supposed to be finalized next year, and it's projected to start operating in 2018, generating some $250 million in annual income for Colombia.
|Deforestation is already going on in the |
Guess which path the Colombian and Panamanian governments are likely to choose?
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours