Feb 4, 2020

Wild Cat Trail Monitoring and Maintenance

Grupo Ecologico Sierra Gorda, Ranger Miguel F.
Grupo Ecologico Sierra Gorda, Ranger Miguel F.

On this occasion we want to share the experience from the last surveillance tour to one of the private reserves that we guard in this special territory that is the Sierra Gorda. Located in the great mountain range that runs east of the Sierra Gorda from south to north, it turns out to be unique for its ecosystems and species that live there.

To get there requires travelling for an hour of paved road, then a dirt road that is only passable in a 4x4 vehicle and where the driver's expertise is indispensable. Even if it's a jeep, it's easy to hit the rocks and damage the vehicle or get into one of the ditches that the rain has formed. A chainsaw is also necessary, because the wind knocks down trees and or it is not possible to be reached or one is trapped on the return if in that period an oak fell, which happened to us on one occasion. And the inseparable machete, to keep the bushes and branches trimmed and uncover the trail for future monitoring. This minimum maintenance is a recurring activity and takes up time on each tour.

After about 45 minutes, you arrive at the point where you leave the vehicle and start a long walk along a path that is used regularly by pumas and jaguars, to the shelter of old oaks and white cedars that are dripping wet from the fog that enveloped everything that morning. “The trail” is barely visible, as we just keep it open to minimize the disturbance and to deter other people from following it. In short, it is easy to get lost in that green sea, and in order to get oriented in the blurring fog, we use larger trees as a point of reference. In most visits it is the rule to find the territorial marks of pumas or jaguars on the trail, which they do with their back claws when “scratching” on the ground-litter and where they also defecate or urinate. That visit was no exception and I had the joy of finding 4 of those tracks. This speaks of how alive that great forest is, where the great predators are at ease and therefore the chain of life that sustains them remains robust and functional.

On this monitoring visit, I decided to go through the 11-kilometer perimeter fence that we built in 2007 and that since then has kept out the free-roaming cattle of neighboring properties. Trekking this very abrupt terrain, where limestone rocks dominate and are covered with moss and leaf litter, forces me to walk a bit blindly. I can´t see the often loose rocks that slide when stepped on, having to be particularly careful. A bad blow, sprain or fracture in those latitudes would be a bad experience, because one is far from any help. And worse, eventhough we wear protective gear, I am always on the alert for rattlesnakes. And fortunately, they are extremely calm and gentle beings. Keeping that fence in good condition is of the greatest importance, as trees or branches can fall and break it. A single damaged section allows the cattle to enter and destroy many years of natural regeneration. To make the point, the populations of the two species of magnolia (Magnolia rzedowskiana and M. pedrazae) that were “discovered” in this sanctuary were barely surviving before the area was fenced, and now the young magnolias are literally counted by the hundreds. It is no exaggeration to say there is a 200% increase in species when conservation is the main priority.

The micro-endemic species which were on the verge of extinction due to the illegal logging suffered in these forests for decades have slowly returned from the edge of extinction. And that is only to report on what is obvious to my eyes. Apart from the permanent presence of pumas, jaguars, margays, ocelots and endemic and endangered chivizcoyos, cryptic species such as salamanders maintain their lares in these shady forests. So each reconnaissance tour is gratifying, even if it is to start early and finish late in the day. The presence of this and other Reserves allows us to keep human greed far away and allow life to return in stronger numbers to those protected spaces, and re-wild nature.


Dec 30, 2019

Educating and Learning for Climate Action

Environmental education in rural schools
Environmental education in rural schools

Educating for Climate Action

educadoresAt our headquarters in Jalpan de Serra, we held a national workshop called "Climate Action", which was aimed at teachers, educators and the media to address climate change. We all gathered to share the experiences of local initiatives and local entrepreneurs solving problems in their own contexts with innovation, as well as, to raise awareness, and to manage and organize solutions to the countless threats to nature. Our partner, Earth Day Network, presented its 2020 campaign, broadcast from Washington DC, to publicize the initiatives that educators can incorporate into their curriculum, in particular celebrating Earth Day on April 22.  We were pleased to welcome old friends and allies from different states of the country as well as new educators. We find that in our communities, we are doing our best to counteract the reality of climate change, which is disrupting the fabric of life at a tremendous speed.

And for Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda, the backbone of the civil movement for conservation is Communtiy Environmental Education, a catalyzer for the coming generations to be environmentally sensitive, aware with new habits and feelings for Nature. Take these amazing kids, learning about the birds in their community, the types of food they eat and the habitat they need to survive. Each year we continue to work with the students, parents, teachers and local authorities to educate for a shared future.

The support we receive through Global Giving for this leadership project among youth is critical because we can guarantee deeper interaction and development with the opportunity to make the planetary crisis a shared challenge.


Dec 2, 2019

Thank you for your support! !Gracias por apoyar esta campana!

Thank you for supporting this campaign! In an effort to condense the number of  campaigns we manage, we are shutting down this campaign. We still will manage local fire fighting brigades, but those donations will be managed through our “Protecting Wild Cat Habitats” campaign. You can find that link campaign here: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/protecting-wildcat-habitat/. You can find more details at the previously mentioned link. We also elaborate on our future plans below.

As part of the forest fire prevention and firefighting activities in the Sierra Gorda for 2020, we have carried out the following activities with the entities involved in fighting forest fires:

  • SWOT workshop (Strengths, Opportunities, Weaknesses, Threats) with the different actors and agencies involved in fighting forest fires in the northern third of the State of Querétaro (CONAFOR, CONANP, Civil Protection, City Councils, SEDEA, Voluntary Firefighters, GESG) and to map out a course of action and strengthening needs for 2020.
  • An interview with the Secretary of Agricultural Development of the Government of the State of Querétaro, Carlos Dobler, to propose the creation of two new fire fighting brigades in the Sierra Gorda and to be ready to operate in 2020.
  • An interview with the Secretary of Sustainable Development of the Government of the State of Querétaro, Ing. Marco del Prete, so that the Secretariat provides financing for the equipment of existing and new brigades. A complete proposal was presented.
  • Integration of proposal for brigade operated by the same GESG to the World Land Trust, which would be based in the community of Valle Verde and would have as its mission the rapid and immediate attention to any fire, in particular for the protection of private reserves that we guard. We are considering to contract 10 persons for this brigade, fully equiped and trained.
  • Interviews with the Municipal Civil Protection Directorates, regarding their training, training and equipment needs.
  • Maintenance of access trails in private reserves, which are essential for agile fire-fighting and serve as firebreak breaches.
  • Coordination with Ejidal authorities of the neighboring state of San Luis Potosi (Sierra de Xilitla) for joint attention to forest fires in the state limits.
  • Follow-up with the State Attorney's Office for Environmental Protection and Urban Development of the Government of the State of Querétaro regarding the criminal charges filed with the Attorney General's Office of the Republic for changes in land use and fire use (origin of the great forest fire of this year) as they constitute federal crimes, until the alleged arsonists are held responsible. This would set a very important precedent for preventing fires next year.

Gracias por apoyar esta campaña! En un esfuerzo por condensar el número de campañas que gestionamos, estamos cerrando esta campaña. Seguiremos gestionando las brigadas locales de extinción de incendios, pero esas donaciones se gestionarán a través de nuestra campaña "Protegiendo los hábitats de los gatos salvajes". Puedes encontrar la campaña aquí: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/protecting-wildcat-habitat/

Como parte de las actividades de prevención y combate de incendios forestales en la Sierra Gorda para el 2020, hemos realizado las siguientes actividades con las instancias involucradas en su combate:

  • Taller FODA (Fortalezas, oportunidades, debilidades, amenazas) con los diferentes actores y dependencias involucradas en el combate de incendios forestales en el tercio norte del Estado de Querétaro (CONAFOR, CONANP, Protección Civil, Ayuntamientos, SEDEA, Bomberos Voluntarios, GESG) y trazar ruta de acción y necesidades de fortalecimiento para el 2020.
  • Entrevista con el Secretario de Desarrollo Agropecuario del Gobierno del Estado de Querétaro, Ing. Carlos Dobler para plantear la creación de dos nuevas brigadas de combate en la Sierra Gorda y estén listas para operar en el 2020.
  • Entrevista con el Secretario de Desarrollo Sustentable del Gobierno del Estado de Querétaro, Ing. Marco del Prete para que dicha Secretaría aporte el financiamiento para el equipamiento de las brigadas existentes y las nuevas. Se presentó propuesta completa.
  • Integración de propuesta para brigada operada por el mismo GESG al World Land Trust, que tendría como base a la comunidad de Valle Verde y tendría como misión la atención rápida e inmediata a cualquier conato de incendio, en particular para la protección de las reservas privadas que custodiamos.
  • Entrevistas con las Direcciones de Protección Civil Municipales, y sus necesidades de entrenamiento, capacitación y equipamiento.
  • Mantenimiento de senderos de acceso en las reservas privadas, que resultan esenciales para el combate ágil a los siniestros por fuego y sirven como brechas cortafuego.
  • Coordinación con autoridades Ejidales del vecino estado de San Luís Potosí (Sierra de Xilitla) para la atención conjunta a incendios forestales en los límites estatales.
  • Seguimiento con la Procuraduría Estatal de Protección al Medio Ambiente y Desarrollo Urbano del Gobierno del Estado de Querétaro a las denuncias penales que la misma presentó ante la Fiscalía General de la República por cambios de uso del suelo y uso del fuego (origen del gran incendio forestal de este año) al tratarse de delitos del fuero federal, hasta que se consiga fincar responsabilidades a los presuntos incendiarios. Esto sentaría un precedente muy importante para prevenir incendios el año entrante.
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