Putting in place ecotourism, allowed organizing
protected zones, natural parks, sea parks and biosphere reserves
but it is not enough.
National Parks are spaces characterized by the presence of one or
several ecosystems, important because of the beauty of the landscape,
of their scientific, educational and recreational value, of the
presence of flora and fauna, of their disposition to the tourist
development or for other reasons of general interest.
The biosphere reserves are spaces characterized by the presence
of one or several ecosystems never spoiled by man or needing protection
and restoration. They are inhabited by species representative of
the national biodiversity, among them several endemic species, threatened
Mexico is one of the few countries
having included the concept of biosphere in its environmental law.
The initiatives for creating new reserves come from academic groups,
OGN or the government itself through the National Commission of
the Natural Protected Surfaces (CONANP).
Mexico counts today 41 biosphere reserves, among
them, 8 are included in the World Network of the Biosphere Reserves
The Unesco Man and the Biosphere Programme (called MAB) initiated
work in some Project areas covering different ecosystem types from
mountains to the sea, from rural to urban system.
There are 66 National Parks and 41 Biosphere reserves. They shelter
economic activities and strive to protect global ecosystems offering
a biodiversity worth of this name .
The three main ones are : the Sian
Ka’an reserve on the Caribbean coast (agricultural yield
rose because of irrigation and mixed farming; deforestation avoided),
the El Vizcaino reserve in Baja California, sanctuary of breeding
for the grey whales and Mariposa
Monarca reserve (Mic) since July 2008.
In October 2006 : Huatulco
(Oax)/La Primavera (Jal)/La Encrucijada (Chi)/La Sepultura (Chi)/Los
Tuxtlas (Ver)/Selva El Ocote (Chi)/ Sierra de Huautla (Mor)/Volcan
Tacana (Chi)/Barranca de Metztilan (Hid)/Calakmul
In 2007, la Sierra de Alamos - Río Cuchujaqui,
In 2008, Isla Marietas in front of Punta Mita,
In 2009, Lagunas de Montebello
In 2010, Naha-Metzabok
( lacandone communauty : www.utselva.edu.mx)
Los Volcanes (The Volcanoes of Mexico), Maria’s Island (far in the Pacific in front of Nayarit
and in 2012 :
Tehuacán-Cuicatlán, Mexico, is located on an arid mountain and high lands system and has one of Mexico’s highest rates of biodiversity and endemic species (states of Puebla & Oaxaca). It is the most emblematic of the old landscapes of Mesoamerica and is host to eight different ethnic groups. It includes the original domestication sites for maize, cucumber, avocado and beans. The most relevant ecosystem is a densely wooded expanse of arborescent cactus species (bosque de cactáceas columnares) and the tropical dry forest (selva baja caducifolia) :
Extract of Unesco doc : www.unesco.org.
of whales in El Vizcaino
SANCTUARY of whales in El Vizcaino : located in the central
part of Baja California, this site contains ecosystems
of exceptional value. The coastal lagoons, de Ojo de Liebre
and San Ignacio, constitute excellent breeding grounds
and wintering for the grey whales and the sea lions of
California, the seals of the North and the blue whales.
The lagoons shelter also four species of endangered sea-turtles.
The sanctuary is considered as a nice success. In 1999,
the world heritage community campaigned against a project
of the extension of a salt production factory in Laguna
San Ignacio, in El Vizcaino Bay; the Bay being the last
unpolluted lagoon and breeding place for the grey whales
of the Pacific. The world heritage committee warned the
government that the establishment of a salt factory inside
the sanctuary could threaten the marine and terrestrial
ecology, the grey whales and the integrity of the site.
In March 2000, the Mexican government decided that the
salt-works at the reserve of El Vizcaino would not proceed.
In the language of the Maya Indians who once populated the area,
of the sky”. Located on the East Coast of Yucatán
this Biosphere reserve contains tropical forests, mangroves and
marshes as well as a vast marine zone intersected by a barrier reef.
It shelters an especially rich flora and a fauna comprising more
than 300 species of birds, as well as a large number of the region’s
characteristic terrestrial vertebrates, which cohabit in the diverse
environment formed by its complex hydrological system.
Reserve Mariposa Monarca
It is located in the State of Michoacán
and occupies 152 461 acres close to the province of Mil Cumbres
and is comprised of a group of mountains and hills. The highest
points culminate around 3600 m of altitude. The soils are made of
light volcanic ashes whose water retention capacity is very high.
The conifer species “Abies religiosa” holds a very high
humidity level and is able to resist low temperatures, which is
the preferred habitation for the Monarch butterflies. This phenomenon
of migration of the Monarch
butterflies intrigued the entomologists and biologists : Why
thousands and thousands of orange and black Monarch butterflies
migrate from Canada and North of the United States (Rocky Mountains)
to Mexico and back.
Consult the website of Unesco about it.
A lot of butterflies died because of the natural elements like
cold and snow falls as well as the deforestation and pesticides
spreading. The government of President V. Fox became aware of the
importance of the protection of theses butterflies and decided to
establish more reserves.
The preservation of the sanctuaries was also one of the priorities
of the government of Calderón (2006-2012).
See special chapter in clicking
You could see then flying in huge clusters and always
reaching the same isolated parts of Michoacán.
They take flight in September/October for breeding during
the dry season. When they reach the neo-volcanic axis,
they establish themselves in hibernation colonies, using
branches from the oyamel (Mexican conifer tree) in the
Southwestern sides of the forests, where they stay for
5 months from when they arrive in October until they leave
the end of March. After a mating period of one month,
the butterflies that survived the wintering go back from
where they came.
The confirmation of this migration was confirmed only
in 1975. The Odyssey lasts one month. They fly 129 km
a day. They use the atmospheric currents that allow them
to plan for about 3900 km. From the studies, the Monarch
butterfly lives about 9 months, while other butterflies
live only a few weeks, or even a few days. The scientists
haven’t figured out yet the mystery of orientation
to go from one point to the other !
Mexico has 31 sites on the Unesco World Heritage list (included
are archeological zones, historic centers, etc….) including 4 Natural sites and 34 on
the tentative list, among them, (added in 2005) the Islands and
Protected Area of the Gulf of California – This site comprises
244 islands, islets and coastal zones located in the Gulf of California,
in Northeastern Mexico
. The Sea of Cortez and its
islands are considered as a natural laboratory for the investigation
of speciation. And, almost all major oceanographic processes of
the planet are present on the site, giving it huge importance for
study. The site is of remarkable beauty and offers a spectacular
landscape of islands with high cliffs and sand beaches, which contrast
with the desert reflecting in it and the surrounding turquoise waters.
The site shelters 695 species of vascular plants, more than in any
other marine and insular site on the World Heritage List. It is
also exceptional regarding the number of fish species : 891, 90
of them endemic. And, the site contains 39% of the world’s
number of marine mammal species and a third of the world’s
number of marine cetacean species.
2006 : A new property has been classified on the Unesco World Heritage
List on July, 13 2006 : Agave landscape and Ancient Industrial Facilities
of Tequila (first property inscribed
in the “natural site” section). This property lists
Mexico at the 7th world place judging by the number
of properties on the Unesco List. This zone includes blue agaves
landscapes, haciendas, distilleries and fabrics, cities and archaeological
vestiges from the Teuchitlán civilization.
2008 : See special chapter about the
Mariposa Monarca reserve
other reserves of biosphere are on the Unesco tentative list
Biosphere reserve Banco Chinchorro
It is located at 30.8km in the Caribbean Sea, East of the coastal
city : Mahahual
which is the closest continental point. There is a 1000m deep canal
between the reserve and the coast. It sprawls on 391 acres, among
them only 0.4% on dry land. Because of its localization in the Caribbean
Sea, it is part of the reef Mesoamerican system. Located on the
high seas, it emerges like a reef lagoon that, because of the shallow
and reef barrier, causes heaves, movements and processes of sedimentation.
The barrier protects the littoral from tropical storms and hurricanes
assaults. The ecosystems related to the process of reproduction,
farming and propagation of economical and ecological valuable species
and salutary to the zone is comprised of coral reefs, sea grass
beds, sand bars, rocky islets, low lands covered by shrubs and sandy
The searches in the reserve allowed making a list
of 778 species : 58% belong to the marine fauna, 14% to the terrestrial
fauna, 18% to the marine flora and 10% to the terrestrial flora.
The marine fauna comprises 95 coral species. These corals greatly
contribute to the generation of a heterogenic environmental condition.
Fishing, which is the most important economical activity, is submitted
to a strict regulation. You could find pink sea snails (strombus
gigas) and lobsters (panulirus argus). This reserve is also a big
boat cemetery in which the natural and cultural elements are indivisible.
There are 44 wreckages and 33 of them, sunk between the sixteenth
and the twentieth century, are indicated on a map drawn from librarian
Biosphere reserve El Pinacate and
the Big Altar Desert : This reserve lies at the
very end of the Northwestern coastal plain of the California Gulf,
in the vast province of the Sonora Desert.
It is a volcanic group consisting of craters, ashes cones and lava
flows, consolidated and mobile sand dunes, river beds and alluvium,
vast beaches and rocky mountains made of basalt and granite. It
is a very arid region, with few precipitations and very high temperatures
(up to 56° C in summer). More than 560 vascular plants species
can live here because of the climatic and physic conditions of the
region. They constitute one of the main biological values of the
reserve. Despite the inhospitable conditions of the region, 41 mammals
species, 237 birds diversities, 42 reptiles diversities , 4 amphibians
species and 4 fresh water fish species call this home.
Biosphere reserve Selva El Ocote
: located in the North of Chiapas,
this zone is part of the hydrological basin belonging to the fluvial
net of Grijalva, one of the most important rivers in Mexico.
The confluence of several rivers, which bears the river La Venta,
constitutes for the Selva El Ocote the fresh water reservoir for
the whole territory. Given its geographic situation, and the huge
presence of precipitous terrains, ten types of vegetation are represented
in the Selva El Ocote. The main ones include : tropical forest of
evergreens, high, middle and low jungles, fog jungles, pine, mangrove
and oak forests. Even if the whole flora hasn’t been on record,
705 species, 452 kinds and 121 families, coexisting all along the
canyon of the river La Venta, have been located until now. The number
of 705 species is not definitive, because the exploration of the
mountain is not finished. The number could rise up to 2,000. Concerning
the fauna, the Selva El Ocote is considered one of the most important
biological diversity centers, because it is located in a transition
zone between two neo-tropical provinces; the provinces of Pacific
and Tehuantepec, a zone that comprises 646 terrestrial vertebrate
species. Among the invertebrates, there are 3,000 coleopteran species
and 500 moth species; however, if all the other invertebrates were
added, the number would be up to 20, 000 species. There are also
many archeological vestiges corresponding to the culture zoque,
as well as caves that were inhabited by pre-Hispanic civilizations.
of protection of flora and fauna Cuatrociénegas
The ecological reserve Cuatro Ciénegas, located in the desert
of Coahuila, is also a highly protected zone; about 200 fresh water
pools comprise an exceptional fauna and flora. It consists of hundreds
of cactus, fish and reptiles. This valley is part of the desert
belt of the northern hemisphere in Central Baja California. There
are precipitous hills belonging to the Sierra San Borja and vast
valleys like the valley of Montevideo. The territory of this reserve
lies mainly on the low and flat part of the valley of Cuatrociénegas,
at an elevation of 740 meters above sea level. It could reach 2,
100 meters in the Sierra de Madera located in the northwestern part
of the reserve. This valley comprises canyons, salt saturated alluvial
plains, some low hills and an important zone of gypsum, unique in
Mexico. The hydrologic complex existing in this
zone is interconnected mainly underground, but also with rivers
and artificial canals on the surface. There are about 500 sources
making ponds, marshes, rivers and streams, swamps and lagoons of
various dimensions and depths. The site resembles to an aquarium
in the Mexican desert. It is also the place for basic and applied
research studies, and educational activities on every level. The
valley hasn’t been affected with change for more than 12,
000 years. The geographic isolation provoked by the surrounding
mountains favored the evolution of various groups of organisms.
This site is one of the most important marshy lands of the country,
because it has a very high endemism. There are also many interactions
between the endemic species.
zone holds groups of endemic fauna linked together : reptiles, amphibians,
fish, crustaceans, scorpions, mollusks and other invertebrates as
well as a huge quantity of species placed under a status of conservation.
The endemic species of the region are divided into nine reptiles,
one amphibian, ten fish, eight crustaceans, seven scorpions, thirteen
mollusks, four insects and twenty five vascular plants. The prevailing
vegetation on the ground of the basin is the halophilic herb land
and aquatic vegetation. The gypsum dunes shelter endemic species
of gypsophila plants; the ground is also covered with xerophile
matorral and mountainous matorral in the highest parts. The marsh
also offers the following values: it guarantees the operation of
the ecosystem; it conserves the underground and surface fresh water
stocks for using them in agriculture, recreation, farming and education
of the environment. The zones where the water stores up are made
of arid and gypsum soils or lacustrine or alluvial soils, very alkaline,
What does the Unesco Tentative List mean ? Log on
interesting reserves exist and if you have the opportunity, don’t
hesitate to visit them : El Cielo (State of Tamaulipas), Manantlán
(State of Jalisco), Mapimí (State of Durango), Montes
Azules (State of Chiapas), El
Triunfo (State of Chiapas), Calakmul
(close to the Guatemala border), Ria
Celestún (Yucatán) and Ria Lagartos (Yucatán).
For a very efficient way to ecological tourism,
use the much experimented Mexican tours to organize your visit.
The natural sites are wonderful places for observing the nature
and hiking. They are numerous and diversified and every one can
find his happiness.
Consult a web site in english for national parks
and reserves :
Log on to the site : www.planeta.com
for more information about the flora, fauna and environment.
You could also consult this site about national parks and reserves
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