| Apr 13, 2016
Expansion of 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