Wildlife activity kept up in our camera-traps, as again, ranger Leonel Espino photographed two jaguars in the Arenitas and Tinaja reserves, where old growth oak forests offer heaven to a variety of wildlife.
We are thrilled to announce the discovery of three new Magnolia species, two of them in the Hoya del Hielo reserves, and the other species in the Hoya Verde reserve. Dr. Antonio Vázquez, from the Universidad de Guadalajara is in charge of their description, already shared some info and the new species are dedicated to: Magnolia rzedowskyana, to Dr. Jerzy Rzedowsky, Mexico´s main botanist, Magnolia sierragordae, to this very special mountains, and the third I had the truly enormous honour to be named after my surname, Magnolia pedrazae, as Dr. Vázquez first realized they were new species thanks to photos I shot years ago and also because our work to protect local biodiversity.
We covered the surveillance of the rest of the reserves by the activities of other rangers, their supervisor and myself, without encountering any illegal activities. But just outside the reserves the ongoing logging, so they are showing how effective this conservation scheme is and this is why we must continue.
It is an honour to share the announcement that our Director, Martha "Pati" Ruiz Corzo has been recognized today with the Wangari Maathai Prize by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. I am attaching the official press release for your information.
"Martha’s extraordinary commitment to preserving the biodiversity of her land and to lifting rural communities out of poverty makes her a deserving winner of the Wangari Maathai Award,” said Eduardo Rojas Briales, FAO Assistant Director-General, Forestry, and Chair of the CPF. “By recognizing the implications of asking subsistence farmers to plant trees on land they had previously used to eke out a living, and putting into place successful mechanisms to offset that lost income, Martha and her organization have established a solid model that can be replicated elsewhere.”
Thalia Davidoff (Communications Officer)
For this period we are proud to report sightings of wildlife coming back to the protected areas by our rangers. First, Leonel Espino founded tow active nest of red-crowned parrots that depend on the old-hollow trees to nest.
But the best just happened past July. Leonel came to office in in the first week of the month quite excited as he found several fresh tracks of a jaguar and even listened how the big cat disappeared in the bush. So he placed the camera traps in the forest and on the 26th of July, a big jaguar passed by, showing indeed the real value of providing, although a small plot in the territory a jaguar claims, safe heavens to wildlife. Jaguars of course are a forest health indicator and for us, they represent the real wilderness essence of these mountains.
In other protected areas, the only encounters of rangers were with wildlife and its signs, without illegal activities (logging, poaching, and forest fires), happening in any of them, totaling 20 surveillance trips.
For this period, we carried out a total of 12 surveillance trips to monitor the on-going protection of sanctuaries purchased for strict conservation as well as the priority areas owned locally that joined the ecosystem services compensation program. Our field staff has received encouraging reports from landowners and neighbors alike that wildlife they had not seen in decades are returning to the protected properties and the neighboring areas.
To reach these remote areas requires four wheel drive, the tools and the outdoors skills to reach them and survey the landscape on foot. The conditions often include removing trees that have fallen across the old roads that are no longer accessible to loggers and hunters. Among the old oaks, ancient cedar and an extraordinary diversity of magnolias and orchids that make up a part of this special community, we can hear the call of the bearded wood partridge on the forest floor and wild turkeys flirting in the trees tops. Ultimately, the value of these wildlife reserves is reflected in the increasing number of tracks left by the indicator species we know seek refuge in the Sierra Gorda, such as the mighty jaguar.
Your continued support is vital to sustain the salaries of our rural rangers, Miguel, Abel, Leonel, Javier and Emiliano, who wear the Sierra Gorda uniform and have distinguished themselves in their communities for the important role they play as educators and defenders of the last wild places.
Thank you for your support!
Since November 2013, we have ensured the protection of biological diversity in the properties included in the Network of Private Nature Reserves in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, expanded the protected area and executed payments for environmental services to forest owners.
Our objective has been to restore and protect areas of high biodiversity. During this period, we have carried out 10 surveillance runs through the reserves. Fortunately, we have not come across any environmental crimes of any kind, such as logging, hunting, or forest fires. To the contrary, we have found a variety of jaguar and puma trails and footprints, as well as sightings of several endangered species such as crested guans (Penelope purpurascens), bearded wood-partridge (Dendrortyx barbatus), singing quails (Dactylortyx thoracicus), tayras (Eira barbara), boas (Boa constrictor), Totonacan rattle snake (Crotalus totonacus) among others, which speaks to the health of ecosystems we safeguard.
Moreover, thanks to our management we effectively protected 48.284 ha of forests and jungles through payment for environmental services (PES) to landowners living in conditions of extreme poverty.
Through this strategy much of the large biological corridor that runs east of the Sierra Gorda is protected, with continuous forest cover and the effects of forest fragmentation and human pressure minimized. Our continuous presence through surveillance trips prevents environmental crimes in neighboring properties because the neighbors know of our activities and function.
In all cases a contract is signed by the beneficiary landowner, where conditions stipulate that they must remove livestock, not change the land use and exclude any activity logging and hunting from their property. Meanwhile, our role is to monitor the condition of the property and ensure that the landowner complies with the conditions.
Clearly these activities, apart from having a broad socio-environmental effect and combating poverty, help protect priority biodiversity in real way. The continuous sightings of the presence of big cats, reflects the health of these mountain ecosystems, food chains and their ability to provide environmental services.
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Jalpan de Serra,
Jalpan de Serra,