Untitled Document
Geography
National Context
National Park System
Table of Protected Areas
Map of Protected Areas

Geography

Mexico is located at the confluence of two of the world's most important biogeo-graphic zones, the nearctic and the neotropical. This border region allows the coexistence of plants and animals of the two subcontinents, as well as from the presence of many endemic species. This, associated with a wide spectrum of environmental conditions from North to South places Mexico among the planet's five richest nations in terms of species, endemisms and ecosystems.

With a total land area of 1.953.162 km2, distributed on both sides of the Tropic of Cancer, and no less than 11.953 km of coasts, Mexico is essentially a mountainous country (65% of its land area lies above 1000 m altitude). Its variety of climates span from very arid to humid tropical: 56% of the national territory (in the north and center) is under very arid, arid or semi-arid conditions, while the coastal highlands and plains of the Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Yucatan Peninsula (37%) enjoy a subhumid climate, and the remaining 7% - in the southern state of Chiapas - tropical conditions.

Mexico is home to about 10% of the world's vascular plants (26,000 species, more than 40% of which national endemics), hosts the segond largest number of reptile species (717 - 52% endemics), occupies the fifth position in mammal (450 species - 65% endemics), the fourth in amphibian (284 species - 60% endemics), and the tenth in bird (1,074 species - 10% endemics) diversity.


National Context

Mexico's natural resources are exploited with little consideration for sustainability: some figures hint at a deforestation rate superior to a million hectares per year due to illegal logging, agricultural expansion (including uncontrolled burning) and land invasions. The protection of wildlife still suffers from serious legal gaps, although wildlife management programs are progressively emerging in different parts of the country.

The confusion caused by some of the laws and regulations governing the use of natural resources, associated to a mostly inconsistent implementation, have brought many species on the brink of extinction. The major challenge of conservation nowadays lies in strengthening the technical capacity necessary to manage these complex land use patterns (generally at the level of rural communities), in providing administrations the means needed to ensure an effective control of extractive activities and to set up rigorous monitoring systems.


National System of Protected Areas

The Mexican National System of Protected Areas (SINAP) was created in 1983 and ratified in 1996 by the "Ley General de Equilibrio Ecológico y Protección al Ambiente" (Law of the Environment), an instrument designed to place the country's most biodiverse and ecologically important areas under legal protection status. Encompassing a broad range of management categories, the SINAP is under the jurisdiction of the Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP), a deconcentrated body of the Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT), one of the key players in the implementation of the country's biodiversity conservation strategy. Besides this role, the CONANP is responsible for the execution of the Regional Sustainable Development Programs, which principally emphasize on poverty reduction and assistance to rural communities.

In the past four years, 53 new protected areas have been incorporated to the SINAP, totaling more than 10 million ha, or about 60% of the entire surface under protection. However, in spite of significant progress and achievements, remaining deficiencies, such as an insufficient budget, weak interinstitutional coordination and a very limited operational, infrastructure and human resource capacity, have led to repeated conflicts between development and nature conservation programs in and around protected areas.

In order to achieve the world standard of 10% of national territory under legal protection, CONANP's principal goals is to secure the protection of approximately 25 million hectares of land by the year 2006. As much as it would mean a significant achievement for the country, this will also imply an increased responsability for the administration to ensure the effective management and implementation of these natural areas.

Table of Protected Areas
Map of Protected Areas


 
 
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