Browsing by Subject "Panama"

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  • Gora, Evan M.; Kneale, Riley C.; Larjavaara, Markku; Muller-Landau, Helene C. (2019)
    Woody debris (WD) stocks and fluxes are important components of forest carbon budgets and yet remain understudied, particularly in tropical forests. Here we present the most comprehensive assessment of WD stocks and fluxes yet conducted in a tropical forest, including one of the first tropical estimates of suspended WD. We rely on data collected over 8 years in an old-growth moist tropical forest in Panama to quantify spatiotemporal variability and estimate minimum sample sizes for different components. Downed WD constituted the majority of total WD mass (78%), standing WD contributed a substantial minority (21%), and suspended WD was the smallest component (1%). However, when considering sections of downed WD that are elevated above the soil, the majority of WD inputs and approximately 50% of WD stocks were disconnected from the forest floor. Branchfall and liana wood accounted for 17 and 2% of downed WD, respectively. Residence times averaged 1.9 years for standing coarse WD (CWD; > 20 cm diameter) and 3.6 years for downed CWD. WD stocks and inputs were highly spatially variable, such that the sampling efforts necessary to estimate true values within 10% with 95% confidence were > 130 km of transects for downed CWD and > 550 ha area for standing CWD. The vast majority of studies involve much lower sampling efforts, suggesting that considerably more data are required to precisely quantify tropical forest WD pools and fluxes. The demonstrated importance of elevated WD in our study indicates a need to understand how elevation above the ground alters decomposition rates and incorporate this understanding into models of forest carbon cycling.
  • Meri, Maija (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    This study addresses the ways in which environmental challenges and power relations are manifested through tourism in the easternmost province of Panama, Darién. Historically, the area of Darién has remained relatively isolated from the rest of the country and tourism in the area is of small-scale. However, the high biodiversity and natural resources have drawn increasing attention, thus resulting in tensions and competing interests between different stakeholders. Local perceptions of tourism bring insight about how people make sense of and engage with touristic activities, and how geopolitical and ecological discourses contribute to environmental inequalities. The theoretical background draws from geopolitical ecology, which states the role and impact of the environment in the shaping of political space and power relations. The research is based on 37 thematic interviews and participant observation carried out during a one-month ethnographic fieldwork in Darién. The findings indicate that tourism has contributed to exposing the environmental challenges in Darién, but also caused controversy over the use of resources for tourism. Tourism brings forward power relations and demonstrates that different players are in an uneven position. The results show that tourism in Darién has been influenced by its remoteness and the nowadays largely misleading assumption of its unstable security situation. Darién faces a broad range of environmental problems, resulting mainly from the State´s weak presence and poor environmental policies. However, tourism has been locally able to enhance environmental awareness and interest towards conservation. Different tourism actors have unequal possibilities in making use of natural resources depending largely on their wealth and social networks. Further geopolitical interests appear through territorial issues and questions concerning land ownership. The findings indicate that by looking at tourism, many underlying tensions related to existing social inequalities, power relations and distribution of ecological benefits can be revealed.
  • Eskelinen, Teppo; Ylonen, Matti (2017)
    Tax havens and tax flight have lately received increasing attention, while interest toward multilateral trade policies has somewhat diminished. We argue that more attention needs to be paid exactly to the interrelations between trade and tax policies. Drawing from two case studies on Panama's trade disputes, we show how World Trade Organization (WTO) rules can be used both to resist attempts to sanction secrecy structures and to promote measures against tax flight. The theory of new constitutionalism can help to explain how trade treaties can 'lock in' tax policies. However, our case studies show that trade policy not only 'locks in' democratic policy-making, but also enables tax havens to use their commercialized sovereignty to resists anti-secrecy measures. What is being 'locked in' are the policy tools, not necessarily the policies. The changing relationship between trade and tax policies can also create new and unexpected tools for tackling tax evasion, underlining the importance of epistemic arbitrage in the context of new constitutionalism. In principle, political actors with sufficient technical and juridical knowledge can shape global tax governance to various directions regardless of their formal position in the world political hierarchies. This should be taken into account when trade treaties are being negotiated or revised.