The lands adjacent to these natural protected areas share the park�s natural characteristics, but they do not have the legal status of a natural protected area. The Panamanian government owns these lands, which are being sold to developers who are building residential developments in those areas that are near Panama City. Many Panamanians consider these new residential developments to be a threat to these precious ecosystems. In addition, a growing number of Panamanians believe that is possible to enjoy the psychological and physical benefits of dwelling while coexisting with nature and actually conserving it.
The position of this thesis is that the use of a holistic approach to designing and developing these residential subdivisions will create buffer zones for the Natural protected areas that act as a conservation tool so that the desire for new development can actually contribute to the conservation of valuable resources.
Buffer zones are defined in this research as �areas adjacent to protected areas on which land use is partially restricted to give an added layer of protection to the protected area itself while providing valued benefits to neighboring rural communities� (Mackinnon as cited in Wells et al. 159).
This study explores integrated or holistic design with an approach that combines natural protected areas, buffer zones, and residential communities in a synergistic relationship. The perceptions of different �key players� involved with residential development in environmentally sensitive areas and case studies of residential developments where land conservation was attempted in Panama City, are presented in this research which concludes with the presentation of a new model for conservation development in areas adjacent to natural protected areas in Panama City.
The conclusions achieved include guidelines for the design and site planning of conservation communities in areas adjacent to natural protected areas in Panama City.