Chiquita and German retailer Rewe have announced the donation of 130 hectares of wetlands located in the San San Pond Sak nature reserve in Panama for the purpose of restoration of natural habitats.

The usage rights to the land, which were purchased with funds provided by Rewe, were donated to the residents' association Aamvecona and in the future will be transferred to the national environment authority of Panama. Restoration of natural habitats will be completed with the support of Rewe and Chiquita.

The restoration of natural habitats on the donated land will begin immediately, with 9,000 seeds of local species collected and germinated.

Local and international volunteers are currently monitoring the hatching season of leatherback sea turtles, as well as the natural habitat for endangered manatees in the region.

Volunteers including Chiquita employees have built a protected hatchery where 4,500 turtle eggs have been relocated. By the end of April, the team counted 162 leatherback turtle nests on the Caribbean beaches of the reserve.

Dr. Martin Küssner, chief financial officer of Rewe supermarkets Germany, said: “The partnership of Rewe and Chiquita is based on the principle that conservation of endangered habitats and species is only possible with the support and participation of the community.”

Michel Loeb, Chiquita’s president of Europe and Middle East, said: “Our partnership with Rewe provides us with an opportunity to contribute to the rich biodiversity of the region and the well-being of local communities in Panama. This co-operative effort, working together with Rewe and officials in Panama, is another example of our long-term commitment to corporate responsibility.”

The donation of wetlands follows the announcement early in 2009 of the partnership between Chiquita and Rewe to initiate a multi-phase biodiversity conservation programme in the San San Pond Sak nature preserve in Panama, a biosphere reserve designated by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization for special environmental importance.