We are pleased to report that private nature reserves are in excellent condition for several reasons: after a shabby start, the rains became abundant and reduced the lack of moisture in the soils from previous years. This led to runoff and numerous streams woke up, especially in the Cerro Prieto reserve where springs sprouted up at several points. Furthermore, park rangers were continuously present in all the reserves and did not detect any illegality or any activity that would compromise the integrity of the private protected areas.
During the last days of October and the first week of November we hosted a production team from the Blue Ant Media in Canada. They came to film an entire chapter about the Sierra Gorda for a new television production on Mexican nature. Roberto Pedraza Ruiz was collaborating with them as a guide and knowledgeable expert of the area, and was able to accommodate the long list of species and ecosystems to be filmed. The crew traveled from the ancient semi-desert to the temperate forests of the highlands, riparian forests, and cloud forests that make-up our reserves. Moreover, it dedicated a whole day to a spectacular and pristine cave that has been visited only by few people.
The team worked in two of the reserves: Hoya del Hielo and the reserve of Fresno Canyon. In the Hoya del Hielo’s primary cloud forest, the team focused on filming magnolias, ancient trees, and epiphyte plant communities. The group was also impressed to find nine fresh territory markings of a puma. In the reserve of Fresno Canyon, the team looked for the great acorns of the Mexican Royal Oak (Quercus germana), Strangler Figs, and flowering orchids (Laelia speciosa). They were lucky to find all the necessary actors. Both protected areas will shine in the series that are scheduled to premiere in August 2018 in Canada and will be subsequently broadcasted in several countries. This will position the Sierra Gorda internationally.
We were also able to acquire a new camera trap, which we installed near a wild avocado due to the abundance of fruits and the subsequent activity of the fauna. After a few weeks the results left us very happy and we learned that wild boars, squirrels, a skunk, and a wandering margay love to eat wild avocados. We also obtained the first record of a kinkajou in that area, which is a surprise, given the high altitude (2,000 MASL) and the chilly temperatures of the forest. The camera also took photos of arborescent species taking a walk in the understory.
To close the year in the best way, we acquired a 220-hectare property of temperate and cloud forests with the support of the World Land Trust. This acquisition will allow us to expand the Hoya Verde reserve and eliminate livestock grazing that has been taking place in the area. In this way, the wild area will be finally returned to wildlife.
As in the case of Xilitla in August, we had to intervene yet again, this time to defend temperate forests of La Pingüica located at the highest point of the Sierra Gorda against the greedy forest management program and the engineer who designed it. The 3,400 hectares that the program refers to are vital for hydrological recharge since they constitute the headwaters of the Escanela river basin.
This forest management program represents one more case where biodiversity has been ignored and thus it was easy to make a long list of observations and points that need improvement. They were discussed during a meeting that took place on November 15, 2017 at our facilities, with the representatives of the federal environmental sector in the State of Querétaro, SEMARNAT, CONANP, and CONAFOR. The following preliminary agreements were made:
Direct intervention of the civil society, which slowed down greedy loggers and their extractive activities and substantially improved environmental standards and biodiversity, represents an important advance for conservation.
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