, June 4, 2009 (ENS) – To establish Mexico as a global model for conservation, a new alliance today announced an initial investment of US$100 million for the promotion of sustainable development and protection of biodiversity in six priority regions.
The global conservation group WWF, along with the foundation established by telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim, and the Mexican federal government, launched the initiative to support conservation in areas of exceptional natural richness.
Jaguar in Mexico (Photo by Laura Scudder courtesy USFWS)
"Mexico is home to 10 percent of the Earth's species and this wealth of diversity is important not only for Mexico's ecosystems, but for the people here who depend on these resources for their social, economic and physical well-being," said WWF President and CEO Carter Roberts.
"This is the largest private financial commitment from an individual ever made in support of conservation and sustainable development in Mexico," said Omar Vidal, director of WWF-Mexico.
"This alliance between the private sector, NGOs and government is exactly the kind of partnership that WWF sees as the model for transforming the way we conserve our special places and balance the needs of people and nature around the world," Vidal said.
The work of the alliance will include efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, develop comprehensive water management policies, strengthen civil society, develop innovative financial mechanisms, and invest in local sustainable economies.
Carlos Slim Helu (Photo by Fundacion Carlos Slim)
"This alliance also underscores Mexico's rising leadership in global negotiations on the design of new financial mechanisms to help developing nations confront and adapt to climate change," Roberts said.
An assessment of the major issues and recommended actions was developed based on consultation with more than 100 government and civil society experts across the selected regions.
The six regions - the Gulf of California, Chihuahuan Desert, Mesoamerican Reef of Mexico, the Monarch Butterfly Region, and the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca - collectively represent 30 percent of the country.
"Carlos Slim is one of the world's most important philanthropists and most people have never heard about his humanitarian activities," said former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
"He owns stock in more than 200 companies that employ more than 200,000 people in Latin America and beyond," Clinton said.
In his own country, Mexico, he has personally supported more than 165,000 young people in attending university, paid for numerous surgeries, provided equipment for rural schools and covered surety bonds for 50,000 people who were entitled to their freedom but could not afford," said Clinton. "He recently created the Carso Institute for Health, and designed it to provide a new approach to health care in Mexico."
The Six Priority Regions, as described by WWF:
Threats to this area include unsustainable tourist, urban and real-estate developments; industrial, unsustainable shrimp and sardine fisheries; overexploitation and pollution of natural water sources; and climate change.
Marine life on the Mesoamerican Reef (Photo courtesy WWF)
Threats to the area include illegal fisheries and commercialization of marine products; overexploitation; introduction of non-native species to the area; shipwrecks in coral reefs; fires; urban and real-estate developments; limited local capacity; and limited local knowledge and valuation of natural resources.
Unsustainable tourism is also a growing threat. Tourism is the fastest growing industry in the Mesoamerican Reef, with diving and coastal tourism as the principal socio-economic drivers in the majority of sites in the region. The region has seen exponential growth of cruise ship tourism in recent years, bringing an estimated eight million tourists to Mesoamerica in 2008.
The Chihuahuan Desert is inhabited by more than 130 species of mammals and contains more than 3,000 plant species; provides nesting sites and migratory habitats for over 500 bird species; and harbors 110 native freshwater fish species in its rivers.
Threats to this area include the change of land use, overexploitation and pollution of natural water sources, and climate change.
Oaxaca is among the five highest-ranking areas in the world for endangered species, and it ranks first in the country for its biodiversity with 50 percent of all species in Mexico.
Threats to this area include high marginalization, lack of economic alternatives, agricultural conflicts, agricultural activities, fires, overexploitation and pollution of natural water sources, inadequate forest management and illegal tree felling, unsustainable coastal tourist developments, and climate change.
The main factors affecting these forests are illegal logging, low-tech legal timber harvesting, agriculture, high impact tourism, unsustainable cattle management, and forest fires, overexploitation and pollution of natural water springs, and climate change.
A dugout canoe in a Lacandon village, 2001 (Photo by Phil Konstantin)
The biodiverse Lacandon rainforest bordering Guatemala functions as a biological corridor between the two countries. The Usumacinta River, one of the largest rivers in Mexico, flows through the rainforest.
The forest holds most of Mexico's tropical trees, 30 percent of the country's mammal species, 50 percent of bird species and 50 percent of daytime butterflies. Many are endangered, such as the red macaw, the eagle, the jaguar, the tapir, the spider monkey and saraguato, and the swamp crocodile. It is home to several indigenous Maya peoples.
Located among the peaks of the Sierra Madre Mountains in Southern Chiapas, El Triunfo became a state park in 1972 and a federal protected area in 1990. In 1993, it was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Threats to these Chiapas treasures include agricultural conflicts, invasive species, forest fires, pollution of rivers and creeks by solid waste and agrochemicals and climate change.
Limited local capacity, and limited local knowledge and valuation of natural resources are factors in all six regions.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.
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