Sample Essay on Panama Canal Expansion Environmental Impact

Panama Canal Expansion Environmental Impact

The Panama Canal was considered the greatest liberty taken with nature. Massive expansion of the canal was completed in 1941 where new channels were created. The canal cuts through the Continental Divide and is scheduled to last for many years. Even so, the expansion has had a great impact on environment. This is because no one gave much thought on the environment before its expansion.

Severed land bridge between north and South America

Mountains were moved due to the expansion of the Panama Canal. As a result, the distance between South and North America has been severed. Research shows that more than 150 square miles of the jungle was submerged during the expansion. Vital wetlands were also drained and poisoned with crude oil.

Tremendous biodiversity

During the expansion, Heckadon focused more on preserving specific jungles especially those that made watersheds for rivers that supply the Panama Canal. As a result, flora and fauna in the region flourished because they were the most valuable jungle species across the globe. There was tremendous diversity in the region because there was a mix and evolution of new flora and fauna.

The country has therefore identified

  • more than 900 new bird species
  • 10,000 species of plants and
  • 1,500 species of trees

Panama Canal led to deforestation

The expansion also led to deforestation. This is a factor that has threatened wildlife or the endangered species. It is essential to note that 52 gallons of fresh water is discharged from locks in the ocean. The water comes from the Panama Canal’s watershed.

What’s more, the water comes with unpredictable surges as silt raises the bottom of the canal. The water which is designed for storage at the canal is therefore critically decreasing in capacity.

Watersheds have been haphazard

Due to the expansion, up to 1,000 sq. mile watershed has been haphazard. As a result, the forested proportion has also greatly reduced to 30percent from 85percent. The good thing is that there are policies that have been put in place to prevent further deforestation and to establish national parks’

Soil erosion

Expansion of the Panama Canal has also led to soil erosion. This is one of the reasons as to why the National Environmental Authority Gonzalo Menendez and University of Panama biologist Ariel Rodriguez have continued to criticize the Panama government for not stopping the urban sprawl. Development of certain cities within the region have also worsened the situation as it blasts and dredges water.

Decrease in the quality and supply of water

Similarly, expansion of the Panama Canal has led to decrease in the quality and supply of water. Because of this, there have been plans to create new lakes. This would however submerge pristine jungle. It will also mean relocation of existing communities.

There are also concerns over reduced in the amount of water supply to the neighborhood. Salinization is threatening water supply within the Panama Canal. Besides these effects, researchers and experts also fear that there could be more issues at stake. This is because of the diversion of water supply from rivers into the Caribbean Sea. Environmentalists are also still worried about unpredictable and catastrophic consequences of the expansion of Panama Canal?

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