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Wildlands Rescue in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve

Your donation to protect these wild sanctuaries  provide a global good:  refuge to endangered and endemic species; fights climate change by protecting stored carbon; maintaining the barrier against hurricanes and retaining the natural structure of forests and jungles that long ago covered the Mexican landscape all the way south to Chiapas.

By protecting biodiversity, you can guarantee vital environmental services provided by healthy ecosystems: water, habitat for wildlife and carbon capture in vegetation.

Roberto Pedraza Muñoz is the Executive Director of Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda I.A.P.
and the Lands  Conservation Program Director

In the eastern reaches of the Reserve, where the main part of the Eastern Sierra Madre mountains form an important biological corridor, forests and jungles have taken refuge and escaped from the profound changes made by human activity. These ecosystems still retain all their components and conserve their wild nature.  Home to greater predators such as the jaguar and puma as well as globally threatened species such as the bearded wood-partridge, the red-crowned parrot and ancient cycad species, these refuges sustain unique biodiversity including unknown species.  Next to the Santa María River, dry tropical forests and tropical sub-deciduous forests are packed with tropical species among large extensions of oak and in the higher altitudes are mixed with pine, and finally in the most humid areas harbor rich mountain cloud forest.  Along the river up to the mountain peaks, the altitude ranges from 300 to 2960 masl (984 to 9711 feet above sea level) crossing two core protected areas of the Biosphere Reserve, Barranca de Paguas and Cañada de las Avispas.  The breadth of life found here is unequalled in central Mexico.

This unusual natural wealth is the private property of the local residents in the Biosphere Reserve, whose traditional practices of extensive livestock under forest cover and illegal logging do not pay off yet continue to reduce the integrity and biological diversity of the landscape.

For years, a series of programs have been underway to conserve the endangered wildlands in the Eartern Sierra Madre within the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve.  SEE THE MAP These include environmental service payments, productive projects, community-based ecotourism, ecosystem product development, etc. and in cases when it is necessary to protect a property in perpetuity, the purchase of lands for conservation has been the response to lands threatened by illegal extractive activities.

Why now?  

Sierra Gorda wildlands are inevitably under greater threat today than in the last 20 years.  The global economic crisis has hit the Sierra Gorda residents with fewer remittances sent to families and more migrant workers returning home to find there are no local employment opportunities.  Despite the federal regulations against changing land-use within a Biosphere Reserve, unfortunately the weakest link is where there is no surveillance and access is limited.   Join Viva Sierra Gorda and donate to guarantee a sanctuary for wildlife.  Donate to create critical bridges for a permanent biological corridor along the Eastern Sierra Madre. Protect biodiversity, guarantee vital environmental services including the storage of carbon provided by healthy ecosystems, and save this natural heritage for future generations. 

What else is being done to protect and develop long term sustainability in the region? http://www.sierragorda.net/index~.htm

In 1996, a local NGO partner, Joya del Hielo AC (click: http://www.sierragorda.net/programas/conservacion~.htm), proved the effectiveness of land purchase for habitat protection when 40 donors joined the campaign to eliminate logging operations in an important stretch of old growth mountain cloud forest.  Since then, the priority in securing lands for long-term conservation purposes has established three main areas that build a bridge between the core protected areas in the puzzle of private properties along the Eastern Sierra Madre bio-corridor of the Reserve, and guarantee habitat for the jaguar and ocelot who depend on temperate and mountain cloud forests along with rare species of magnolia and endemic species like the chivizcoyo (Bearded wood partridge).

To date over 3,500 hectares have been purchased for strict conservation over the last 12 years, retiring these lands from the threat of loggers and allowing the wildlife to return to wildlands.   Over the years, the local partner organizations, Joya del Hielo AC and Grupo Ecologico Sierra Gorda IAP, have mobilized donors and allies to include the People´s Trust for Endangered Species, World Park´s Endowment, the Dutch Committee of IUCN, World Land Trust UK and the Gulf Coast Observatory whose contributions have gone towards purchase and management, in addition to Mexican NGOs who have participated as well.



Viva Sierra Gorda is a project of   Earth Island Institute.