Mexico Moves to Protect a Huge Swath of Coastal Areas, Wetlands, and More

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The new Mexican Caribbean Biosphere Reserve will cover more than 5.7 million hectares.

By Shreya Dasgupta


The new Mexican Caribbean Biosphere Reserve will cover more than 5.7 million hectares. (Photo: Toby Hudson/Creative Commons)

The new Mexican Caribbean Biosphere Reserve, estimated to cover more than 5.7 million hectares, will be spread across several municipalities, including Isla Mujeres, Benito Juárez, Puerto Morelos, Solidaridad, Cozumel, Tulum, Bacalar, and Othón P. Blanco, according to Mexico News Daily.

President Enrique Peña Nieto announced the creation of the reserve at the opening of the 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 13) — Convention on Biological Diversity held in Cancun, Mexico, in December.

Currently, Mexico has about 24 million hectares of protected area. The creation of the Mexican Caribbean Biosphere Reserve will increase this area to nearly 30 million hectares, a step toward fulfilling Target 11 of Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Under Target 11, governments must improve the state of biodiversity by conserving “at least 17 percent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas” by 2020.

The marine portion of the reserve, which will cover an area of about 5.725 million hectares, includes coral reefs and coastal lagoons that are home to over 500 species of fish and over 1,900 species of fauna and flora, local media reported. The land portion of the reserve will cover about 28,589 hectares of coastal areas and wetlands.

“The Mexican Caribbean is characterized by diverse habitats and ecosystems,” the federal government in a statement. “On land there are different kinds of tropical rainforests. Closer to the coast there are sand dunes, lagoons, floodplains, and mangrove swamps. At sea, seagrass meadows and coral reef are predominant.”

Mexico’s Natural Protected Areas Commission, or CONANP, will be responsible for the administration and monitoring of the reserve, while the Navy will be in charge of enforcing protection.

The agencies will require about 130 million pesos (about $6.3 million) a year to finance operations and maintenance of the reserve, the head of the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources, Rafael Pacciano Alamán, told El Universal.

Alejandro del Mazo Maza, the head of CONANP, added that Germany has offered to help financially with up to 10 million euros (about $10.6 million).

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