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
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
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
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
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
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
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
What else is being done to protect and develop long term
sustainability in the region?
In 1996, a local NGO partner, Joya del Hielo AC (click:
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.