Grupo Ecologico Sierra Gorda I.A.P

The mission of the Sierra Gorda is to guide and coordinate the activities of its member organizations responsible for the conservation, restoration and sustainable development of the Sierra Gorda region and the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve. Grupo Ecologico Sierra Gorda, the founding member organization of the Alliance, guides the work of the Alliance's partner organizations in: a) educating for a sustainable future; b) organizing community action and cross-sector cooperation; c) adopting holistic land management; d) promoting management of solid waste and recyclables; e) raising awareness and civic participation; f) bundling and communicating best practices; and g) generating a signifi...
Jul 12, 2016

Protecting Wild Habitat - Report July 11

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Quarterly Forest Ranger Reports from the Field

The private nature reserves established across 5,242 hectares (12953 acres) have had adequate conservation management to assure habitat protection for biodiversity.

The forest rangers we work with have a constant presence in the reserves they steward, to assure there is no livestock, illegal logging and poaching.

The four park rangers we employ (Leonel Espino, Abel Reséndiz, , Javier Aguillón, Emiliano Cárdenas) and their supervisor, Miguel Flores, make weekly site visits and were accompanied to the field by the program leader, Roberto Pedraza Muñoz, at random four times in the last 3 months.  Thanks to the park rangers presence, all of the reserves are free of activities that would otherwise damage the biodiversity. 

Leonel Espino, located in Rancho Nuevo, does a weekly surveillance check throughout the  combined reserves: San Francisco - Arenitas – San José; Abel Reséndiz, located inValle Verde, does surveillance in the Cañón del Fresno and la Joya Verde; Javier Aguillón makes rounds in the reserves Cerro La Luz – Cerro Prieto – El Guayamé; and Emiliano Cárdenas is vigilant of the reserves Hoya del Hielo and Cueva El Tigre. Thanks to their combined experience and the training they receive, they help monitor the passage of wild cats: jaguars, mountain lions, ocelots; in addition to the presence and movements of small mammals (peccarie, armadillo, coatimundi, etc.) and other species like macaws, parrots, chivizcoyos and the orchids that flower in the forests.

Within the bio-corridor where the private reserves are located, we dedicate resources to the surveillance and monitoring of the lands that surround the reserves, because the neighboring property owners are part of the payment for environmental services which means they are dedicated exclusively to wildlife conservation.

The support and accompaniment by the program assistant, Miguel Flores, whose periodical visits are both to verify the reports fromt he field and to take management decisions such as the restoration of waterholes for wildlife or trail maintenance.

In these last three months, Sierra Gorda suffered the harshest part of the dry season, and we participated in the control of two forest fires and the coordination with the agencies of the sector.  The forest fire that occurred in between the Hoya Verde and El Jagueycito reserves consumed almost 2000 hectares of temperate forest.  The strong winds incited a canopy fire which devastated a portion of the forest.  We made reconnaissance of the leading edge of the forest fires and alerted residents as needed and cleaned fire breaks with five additional day workers and finally it was extinguished with the rains of the cold front #62 to cross the country.

 

The second forest fire threatened the eastern reaches of Hoja del Hielo reserve and Abel and Miguel again participated in the firefighting and once again, thanks to a seasonal storm with 15mm of rain came to put the fire out. 

Fortunately no other forest fires were reported.  The on-going environmental education in the local communities and the weekly radio program reinforce the message to prevent forest fires.

Among the responsabilities of the forest rangers on patrol is to assure the functional capacity. Recently, Leonel took care of a small dam that provides water to wildlife in the Arenitas Reserve. Occassionally we hire additional day workers and three were required in this case to remove a considerable section of a huge oak tree that had fallen over the water hole. While working, the crew reported seeing green parrots in two sinkholes located nearby, nesting in the sides of the caves.

Javier Aguillón, the ranger in charge of Cerro Prieto has been monitoring trails with a camera trap and finally had the luck to capture images of diverse small mammals that congregate at the spring nearby.  Some shots are attached below.

The naturalist who is the point person with the World Land Trust UK, Roberto Pedraza Ruiz, participated in the liberation of a female margay. Mr. Juan Fonseca from a ranch community, El Madroño, had reported his chickens being eaten by a wild cat and taking things into his own hands, discreetly captured the culprit with a soft blanket and called Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda´s offices to request help in liberating her and he accompanied Roberto to a similar forest away from his livestock.

 

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Laura P. B. Pérez-Arce
Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda IAP

                              
     
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Jun 21, 2016

Retreat for Environmental Youth Leaders

We’ve been busy since we sent out our last report! Between concluding our series of Earth Festivals, carrying out tree planting campaigns, painting environmentally-themed murals, organizing an environmental awareness workshop for local educators, and holding our biannual retreat for environmental youth leaders, we are working hard to ensure that your donation is money well spent.

To give you an idea of the reach of our programs, over the past three months we have handed out 6,800 tree seedlings to be planted in green spaces in communities and schools. We also painted a total of 7 murals in local communities - 3 with information about preventing forest fires and 4 with messages about conserving water. In our environmental awareness workshop, we shared practical knowledge on sustainable living with 25 local educators. The workshop included sessions on the biodiversity of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, climate change, and project planning as well as a trip to our field school, “Rancho Tonatico”, where participants were given the opportunity to put into practice sustainable agriculture techniques.

The premier event of this spring was the retreat for environmental youth leaders, held at our headquarters in Jalpan de Serra and an adjacent recreational park on the shores of the Jalpan Reservoir.  The retreat was attended by 40 high school- and college-aged youths from the region. Thanks to the generous support of donors like you, we were able to guide these youth through a range of informative and inspiring activities including forest walks, presentations on pressing environmental themes, practical demonstrations of sustainable agriculture, and participatory sessions on how to serve as environmental leaders in their communities.

On the part of the youths, educators, and communities who have benefitted from these activities, we would like to thank you, our donors, for supporting us. Your generosity is more important now than ever as we all partner together to create a culture of sustainability in the Sierra Gorda!

Links:

Apr 13, 2016

Expansion of the Cerro Prieto reserve

Entrance to the Cerro Prieto reserve
Entrance to the Cerro Prieto reserve

Thanks to the donors to this campaign, Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda (GESG) is able to articulate the expansion and protection of a biocorridor of vital habitat within the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve. The ecosystems of the Sierra Gorda are suffering from ever-increasing pressure due to human population growth and demand for resources. Illegal logging for construction and mercury mining, two particularly dangerous threats to the area's biodiversity, continue in spite of the Sierra Gorda’s status as a protected area.

As a result, it has become ever more important for us to maintain and expand the network of private natural reserves that we steward. These reserves have become true sanctuaries, places where we can completely restrict extractive activities. We are able to do this only by maintaining an on-going presence in the reserves and cultivating respect among the local people for the work that we do. Local communities understand that once we have established a parcel of land as a reserve, from that point forward the land will be utilized only for the protection of biodiversity.

In recent years, one of these protected plots measuring almost 3000 acres - the Cerro Prieto reserve, situated on a high mountain ridge and comprised of temperate and cloud forests - had become completely surrounded by illegal logging activity. Thus, expanding it to protect more forests was a high priority for us at GESG. With this goal in mind, we partnered with our long-time ally from the United Kingdom, the World Land Trust, to purchase two adjacent parcels where, several months before, loggers had begun to cut down ancient cedars. We were also fortunate to protect an additional adjacent parcel through the generous support of the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, an ally from Texas that collaborated in the past on the establishment of two other reserves. This expansion of the Cerro Prieto reserve is certainly a good beginning to 2016, allowing us to repel the advance of chainsaws and other human activities on these valuable forests.

In other happenings, as part of our efforts to increase the economic value assigned to the region's ecosystems and strengthen our Payments for Ecosystem Services programs, we achieved the registration of our NAMA (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action) proposal with the federal Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT). Our NAMA is an innovative strategy for capturing carbon in forests and soils through a strengthening of the Querétaro State Mechanism for Carbon Compensations (developed by the state government under our guidance), which has sufficient resources to protect forests within Querétaro state as well as to replicate soil management best practices in other Mexican states.

In more good news, word of the discovery of two new magnolia species in one of our reserves made headlines in several well-known international publications, including the BBC, Smithsonian, ARKive, Maptia, and the Daily Mail among others.  

Finally, as a way of celebrating the ecosystem diversity of the Sierra Gorda and honoring some of its species, we are excited to share two new videos:

Sierra Gorda, Arca de Vida (on the Sierra Gorda's biological diversity)

Ajolotes, Señores de las Pozas (on threatened salamanders in Mexico)

The biodiverse forests of Cerro Prieto
The biodiverse forests of Cerro Prieto

Links:

 

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