island conservation mexico biosphere

New Biosphere Reserve in Mexico Expands Pacific Conservation

The establishment of Mexico’s Biosphere Reserve puts into practice goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity to create systems of protected areas.

In December 2016, Mexico announced the establishment of three new biosphere reserves that will conserve over 2.7 million acres, 21 islands, 97 islets, and the surrounding marine areas. The Pacific Islands Biosphere Reserve will protect islands and the marine environment along the Baja California peninsula.

Biosphere reserves are important features of conservation, unifying protection of terrestrial, marine, and coastal ecosystems. A goal of these protected areas is to reconcile the conservation of species with the sustainable use of resources. The biosphere reserve helps to promote sustainable growth and to preserve areas by creating core areas, buffer zones, and transition areas which balance conservation with human needs and uses.

island conservation mexico biosphere reserve seabirds

Seabirds on the shoreline of Coronado Island, Mexico. Credit: Ellen Macdonald

Stakeholders, including the fishing community, private conservation organizations, and government agencies were crucial in the building the Pacific Biosphere Reserve and demonstrate the value of community engagement. Cooperation and partnerships facilitated conservation without displacing people and their needs. Alfonso Aguirre Muñoz, director of Conservación de Islas in Ensenada commented:

The decree now legitimizes the hard work done by civil society during so many years, with already tangible and relevant results.

Alfonso Muñoz was honored in December with the Midori Prize for Biodiversity for his work with the biosphere network and protecting islands.

island conservation mexico biosphere reserve snake

Los Coronados Rattlesnake. Credit: Alan Harper

The establishment of these conservation areas sets aside a network of critical habitat that will safeguard species in marine and terrestrial environments. They also complement the marine protected areas that exist along the California Coast. Serge Dedina, mayor of the San Diego County border city of Imperial Beach and executive director of the environmental group Wildcoast commented:

Now we have a chain of island conservation that extends from the U.S. all the way to Mexico.

Conserving these regions helps reach one of the goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity to conserve areas of high biodiversity and to create connected systems of preserves. Biosphere reserves and marine protected areas benefit wildlife and people alike.

Featured photo: Coronado Island. Credit: Kirt Edblom
Los Angeles Times
United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

About Emily Heber

Emily is a recent graduate from UC Santa Barbara with a BS in Zoology. As a student, she discovered that she had a passion for the conservation of endangered species and their ecosystems. Her background in informal education has allowed her the opportunity to share her passion for animals with others, something she seeks to continue doing while working with the communication team. In her spare time, Emily enjoys exploring the amazing hiking trails found in Santa Cruz and tries to SCUBA dive whenever possible. Emily is excited to join the Island Conservation team and to help share the amazing work that is being done here.

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