The Chocó-Darién moist forests ecoregion extend along most of the Pacific coast of Colombia, bounded to the east by the Andes; and along the Caribbean coast, north into Panama. The region has extremely high rainfall and the forests hold great biodiversity.
Chocó-Darién Moist Forests
The Chocó-Darién moist forests ecoregion, in the west of Colombia and east of Panama, is considered one of the most species-rich lowland areas in the world.
The ecoregion exhibits exceptional abundance and endemism over a broad range of taxons that include plants, birds, amphibians and butterflies. Its biological distinctiveness is outstanding in the world, with great biological, ecological and evolutionary biodiversity.
There are at least 8,000 vascular plant species in the Chocó-Darién moist forests of which almost 20% are found nowhere else. There is a high diversity of fauna in the ecoregion, with many endemic species.
The ecoregion extends from eastern Panama, in the provinces of Darién and Kuna-Yala, along almost the entire Pacific Coast of Colombia, in the departments of Chocó, Cauca, Valle del Cauca and Nariño.
The Chocó-Darién moist forests encompass a strip of land from sea level to an elevation of approximately 1,000 m (3,280 ft). It lies between the Pacific Ocean and the western range of the Andes; from west of the mouth of the Atrato River in Panama to the Patia River in Colombia.
The forests encompass a strip of land from sea level to an elevation of approximately 1,000 m (3,280 ft). They are bounded to the east by the Andes, which separate them from the Amazon and Orinoco ecoregions. The region has extremely high rainfall, and the forests hold great biodiversity.
There are five distinct subregions:
the northern coast, with the hill country areas of Darién and Urabá
the coastal zone along the Pacific coast, generally up to an elevation of 500 m (1,640 ft)
the central strip, including the northern wet forests, the central rainforests and the San Juan River area
the hills of Carmen del Atrato and the San José del Palmar area
the jungles along the Pacific slope from 500 to 1,000 m (1,640 to 3,280 ft) in altitude
The mountainous areas include the western slopes of the Cordillera Occidental in Colombia and land massifs such as Cerro Torrá, Serranía del Darién, Sierra Llorona de San Blas and Serranía del Baudó.
The northern and southern parts of the ecoregion have been considerably modified for ranching and farming, and there are threats from logging for paper pulp, uncontrolled gold mining, coca growing and industrialization, but the central part of the ecoregion is relatively intact.
The major threat to this ecoregion is deforestation. About 30% of the 13,335 sq km (5,149 sq mi) of the ecoregion in Panama is protected to some extent though in Colombia the total protected area is under 3%. The 597,000 ha (1,480,000 acre) Darién National Park in Panama, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bordering this area in Colombia is the 720 sq km (280 sq mi) Los Katíos National Park. Also in Colombia can be found the Utria National Park, including a land and a marine sector, as well as the Sanquianga National Park and the Gorgona Island National Park.
Annual temperatures average 23.6 °C (74.5 °F), ranging from a minimum of 18.6 °C (65.5 °F) to a maximum of 30 °C (86 °F). Annual rainfall is from 4,000 to 9,000 mm (160 to 350 in).
The central region receives the most rain, in some areas as high as 13,000 mm (510 in). The north and south are comparatively drier and some parts have short dry seasons from January to March.