Tuesday, May 29, 2018

How Elevation Affects Survival in the Mountains of Panama

When thinking about a location for long term survival, it helps to be aware of a few basic factors; food and water availability, air quality and climate tolerance.

The reasons we chose this area of Panama to locate our community are many, but these were three of the earliest and most important factors we considered when deciding on an elevation and area.

Air Quality

Did you know that 92% of the world's population breathes toxic, polluted air? The World Health Organization (WHO) analyzed air quality from 3,000 locations around the world, testing for sulfates, nitrates, mineral dust, and black carbon. Developing countries tested back with the highest concentrations of pollutants and particles, while wealthier countries or countries with vast wildlife/nature preserves had very few pollutants.

WHO concluded that pollution is responsible for 6 million deaths per year. Cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are all products of poor or toxic air quality.

Many people who travel regularly can feel the changes in air quality. While some enjoy the busy city, most can agree the living conditions are not healthy, and provoke stress and disease.

Living in the mountains provides some of the world's cleanest air. Oxygen rich air is very beneficial, and many can feel the effects when walking through the forest or being in the garden. Less pollutant concentration is also beneficial for the plants. Untouched forests work tirelessly to provide oxygen and filter harmful pollutants. Ground vegetation below tree canopies tends to be very lush and healthy due to its protected environment. Bananas, mangos, cocoa, guanabana, guava, and coffee grow widely in Panama, providing food and an oxygen-rich environment for humans and animals alike.


There are 4 main ecosystems in Panama; Tropical wet lowland forest, Tropical coniferous forest, dry forest, and cloud forest. These forests vary based on elevation, location, and types of plants.

Tropical Lowlands
 The Tropical lowlands are very dense with plants, animals, and bio-activity. Usually formed near coasts and the equator, these forests receive year round rain and have a very fast decomposition rate. The average rainfall is 100 inches of rain per year.  Common plants include mangrove, palm varieties, coconut trees, and tropical flowers like hibiscus and orchids.

Tropical Coniferous

Tropical coniferous forests are forests that have a period of no rainfall, causing some plants to die seasonally. They house tall hardwood trees such as redwood, eucalyptus, mahogany, and fruit bearing trees as well. You can find exotic fruits such as guanabana, guava, and soursop growing wildly.

Both of these forests tend to be at a low elevation of one to two thousand feet.

Dry Forest (Finca Cazador)

The dry forests are primarily located on the Pacific side of Panama, and the wetter forests and mangroves are on the Caribbean side. The dry forests cover mountain ranges and extend into the wet lowland forests, or extend higher into the cloud forests.

Cloud Forest
Cloud forests are typically at a higher elevations, and sit in dense layers of condensation. The forest mainly consists of towering trees and thick vegetation below. Rainfall can vary from 20-50 inches per year.

Bio-Diverse Land at Finca Cazador

Climate / Temperature

Finca Cazador sits at a very comfortable 3,200 feet above sea level, making it one of the most comfortable elevations and highly adaptable to year round survival.

Incidentally, mosquitos and other insects often have difficulty surviving at these higher altitudes, due to the lack of access to their natural food source.

It is important to remember that trees, and every other plant, provide clean oxygen for the entire globe, while filtering harmful pollutants. Deforestation is very detrimental not only to the forests, but the air quality. Deforestation along with commercial farming practices has killed the living soil containing beneficial decomposers and fungi in many areas.

The remediation of the soil through organic practices at Finca Cazador has allowed the land to once again support plant and animal life. Living in an environment free of pollutants is something that should our highest concern.



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