Mexico's landscape portrays the abundance and diversity of its natural resources. While a large portion of the country is semiarid and covered with desert scrub and cacti, a fourth of the total land area is covered in forests rich in timber, wildlife and vegetation. In the Sierra Madre, temperate forests abound, while in the South and southern Pacific coast, tropical forests teem with flora and fauna. In fact, Mexico is considered the fourth-most biologically diverse country on Earth.
Mexico is a study in contrasts-a country with great beauty and biodiversity but challenging environmental and economic issues. Mexico conjures up images of white beaches against the blue backdrop of the Atlantic and Pacific, jaguars in tropical rainforests near the Guatemalan border, and monarch butterflies migrating through the Copper Canyon in the winter. At the same time, urban areas are faced with high levels of air pollution; forest fires continue to constitute a significant threat to forest resources, and watershed degradation threatens water quality and supply.
to the Forests
Mexico's forests play a significant role in the global environment. Thus, deforestation is both a national concern and an international one. For example, degradation of the uplands and riparian areas of the Rio Laja Watershed in Guanajuato has resulted in poorer wintering habitats and breeding grounds for migratory birds--en route from the United States or Canada. Poor forestry practices threaten Mexico's natural resources, including supplies of timber and other forest products. In addition, invasive species and urbanization jeopardize forest areas. Protected natural areas often do not have sufficient resources to address these threats, creating additional challenges for the conservation of many of the country's most valuable natural areas and resources.
Does the United States Work in Mexico?
The North American Forest Commission (of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) reflects long-standing cooperation to address continent-wide environmental issues. In addition, when Mexico, Canada and the United States signed the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, one area of increased emphasis was cooperation in environmental activities. Together, the three nations work together to conserve and manage natural resources.
As neighbors, the United States and Mexico share many natural resources challenges, such as the threat of invasive species and uncontrolled wildland fire. Recognizing that the health of Mexico's forests affects the United States, the USDA Forest Service collaborates with Mexican counterparts to sustain and better manage natural resources. The US Agency for International Development, the US Forest Service, Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and National Forest Commission and other partners work together on specific projects: community forestry, migratory species, forest monitoring, protected area management and fire management. For more than twenty years, the two nations have worked side by side to improve natural resource management and conserve biodiversity. In addition, Mexico and the United States have continued to exchange scientific and technical expertise in forest management, wildlife, protected areas, migratory species and watershed management.
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For more than fifteen years, fire management professionals in the US and Mexico have worked to improve knowledge of fire ecology and to strengthen fire management-through training and technical assistance in fire prevention, suppression, response, and restoration. Spanning over two decades, the Fire Management Working Group of the North American Forest Commission has shared technology and research and has trained firefighters through bilateral cooperation in actual wildfire crises.
The Mexico Fire Program
Wildland forest fire constitutes a significant threat to biodiversity and forests in Mexico. As a result of the devastating wildfires in Mexico in 1998, the US fire community and Mexican counterparts (including the Mexican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the Mexico National Forest Commission) developed a comprehensive fire program to improve Mexico's capacity in fire management. With support from the US Agency for International Development, coordinators from the two countries have strengthened capacity to manage wildland fire through formal classroom trainings and demonstrations, technical exchanges, workshops, conferences and assessments. For the past nine years, the US Forest Service has helped Mexico's effort to advance its professional capacity in wildland fire management though the development of a training curriculum modeled after the Forest Service’s fire management training curriculum. Courses are conducted in partnership with Federal Agencies such as the National Forest Commission and the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas, and increasingly include the participation of experts from nongovernmental organizations, local government officials, and in some instances, participants from other Latin American countries. In 2000, training in the Incident Command System began; this has strengthened mobilization and coordination of federal, state and local actors. In 2004, the first Wildland Fire Behavior course was initiated in Mexico. The course teaches fire behavior and fuels management concepts as well as critical techniques that improve the effectiveness of fire fighting efforts and the safety of fire fighters. Recognizing the role that local people play in fire management, in 2006 a basic fire fighting curriculum was initiated to support Mexico ’s efforts to provide standardized training to entry level fire fighters and community brigades.
Support has also been provided to Mexican federal and state response agencies to improve the handling and use of aviation and other fire-fighting equipment. Aviation programs buttress fire response, especially where jungle canopies are dense and where burning areas are difficult to access. Training was conducted from 2001 to 2004 in helicopter management, with assistance in 2003 and 2004 to assist Mexico with the implementation of a wildland fire engine program. Currently, the Forest Service is working with Mexico to provide recommendations on how to improve and support these programs on a long-term basis.
In 2004, the fire program entered a new phase of cooperation with US Agency for International Development in Mexico. The program continues to collaborate with Mexico ’s National Forest Commission to strengthen Mexico's capacity in fire management (described above) as well as work in partnership with the Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza, to strengthen community involvement in fire management activities. The main focus of the program is to: Strengthen local participation for integrated fire management through national, regional and local networks; Support the development of environmentally sound and economically viable technologies for fire management; and Build on collaboration with the Government of Mexico’s central fire office by providing complementary technical assistance and support. The fire program contains a strong participatory component that works to s trengthen learning and exchanges between practitioners and reinforce nongovernmental organizations and community capabilities regarding wildfire prevention and management.
For up to date maps of fire activity in Mexico, please visit the Commission on the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity: http://www.conabio.gob.mx/conocimiento/hotspots/doctos/puntos_calor.html
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B) Fire Ecology -- Photo Series
Recent fire seasons have highlighted the need to anticipate and reduce the threat of damaging wildfires, as well as use fire to restore ecosystem health where needed. Land and fire managers need to be equipped with effective tools to accomplish those objectives. The US Forest Service's Fire and Environmental Research Applications (FERA) team has developed a novel tool: a photo series to assess biomass fuels.
The photo series uses stereographic photographs to document different forest and vegetation types in key Mexican ecosystems. By combining the photographs with estimates of biomass and other biological aspects, the photo series becomes an inventory that provides an effective and inexpensive means for natural resource managers and researchers to analyze existing fuel properties, evaluate fire risk, manage fire fuels and prevent devastating fire outbreaks.
The FERA team, the University of Guadalajara, along with other in-country partners, are developing a photo series in important protected areas of Mexico. This cooperative research, with funding from the US Agency for International Development, is intended to provide information and tools to decision-makers, land managers, and other partners so they may plan and manage activities in major Mexican ecosystems. Field work has been completed in the Sierra de Manantlán Biosphere Reserve, in the States of Jalisco and Colima and the Sierra de Arteaga, in the State of Coahuila. Preliminary copies of the photo series are being used to train rural communities and government fire fighting crews on assessing quantitative and qualitative fuels for their fire suppression activities. In the Biosphere Reserve “Sierra de Manantlan” the photo series is being used to develop a fire risk map. The map will improve the efficiency of fire fighting by defining levels of fire risk and difficulty to suppress fires at the landscape level within the Reserve.
The work in Mexico will complement similar work across a number of ecosystems in the United States and Brazil. It provides the opportunity for fire research and development in temperate and tropical ecosystems to complete a transect (i.e. the Transect of the Americas) of replicated studies in the boreal forests of interior Alaska and in temperate ecosystems in the western United States, Brazil, and Mexico.
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Forest Health/Invasive Species
Forest insects and diseases, and invasive species, can weaken the structure and health of a forest, causing millions of dollars worth of damage and rendering a nation's forests more susceptible to fire and other threats. Therefore, the United States and Mexico have focused on ways to prevent and control the damage of existing and potential native and exotic pests and pathogens. Working together, scientists from both countries observe pests under natural conditions and perform field experiments. The two nations place strong emphasis on sharing information, researching effective bio-control, developing measures to manage habitats, and conducting cooperative training.
Pine Beetle Control
US Forest Service experts have been collaborating with Mexican scientists over the last five years to study and develop treatments for Cone and Bark Beetle infestations in pine stands. Beetles, in the family Scolytidae, are the most devastating forest pests, killing pines over tens of thousands of hectares annually in North America, particularly in the United States and Mexico. By working together, the countries can expand and replicate studies to address insect pest problems that are common to both countries. Knowledge and technology acquired about pests in Mexico will be of direct benefit for controlling those same pests in the U.S.
Cone Beetles can destroy more than 90% of valuable seed crops of pinecones across North America. These beetles have an enormous negative impact on cone production, reducing the quantity of seed available for regenerating stands that have been killed by other beetle infestations, wildfire, or harvesting. The loss of pine seeds (pinyon nuts) also causes hardships for the indigenous peoples in Mexico and the United States that depend on them for food and as a market crop.
Research by US and Mexican scientists and land managers is focusing on ecologically sound ways to protect seed crops of valuable pines. One promising approach is through the use of pheromones. By manipulating these chemicals, similar to those secreted by beetles and other insects, researchers can help control damage without the use of toxic insecticides. Laboratory tests have shown success with pheromones in stands of Pinus pseudostrobus, Pinus teocote, and Pinus michocanae. In field tests, US Forest Service researchers are using a novel microencapsulated formulation of beetle pheronomes to attract and repel beetles in different areas. The cones are further protected from beetle attacks by applying repellent directly to cones.
Working at sites in central Mexico, researchers have identified and incorporated three different pheromones that are still under examination. In 2002, at the request of a non-governmental organization in the Sierra Fria region of central Mexico, US Forest Service researchers expanded their work to test the efficacy of pheromones in treating bark beetle infestations. Related to the Cone Beetle, these beetles attack trees directly, killing them by entering through the protective bark. From the United States to Central America, the Southern Pine Beetle damages thousands of hectares of economically and ecologically important forests every year. Thus, the results of this work will be tremendously useful for land managers throughout the region. Research in several sites is being complemented by additional consultations on integrated pest management, mechanical treatments for mitigating beetle outbreaks, and regeneration of pine stands.
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B) Evaluating the Impact of Dwarf Mistletoe
A cooperative partnership between the US Forest Service and Mexico ’s National Forest Commission has been initiated to provide data on the effect of dwarf mistletoe infection on pine growth so that managers will be able to determine if management of infested pine stands should be modified. In Durango, dwarf mistletoe (Arceuthobium vaginatum) is considered the most important disease agent affecting commercially valuable pine forests. However, federally mandated management guidelines for pine forests in Durango prevent foresters from effectively reducing levels of dwarf mistletoe in economically valuable and intensely managed forests.
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C) Forest Insects and Diseases Working
The Forest Insects and Diseases Working Group of the North American Forest Commission maintains a list to identify exotic insects and pathogens that can cause significant damage to North American forests. The Exotic Forest Pest Information System for North America is contains data on candidate pests, ratings, and pest information. The Working Group also facilitates collaboration with Mexican colleagues on Gypsy Moth, Sudden Oak Death, Dwarf Mistletoe, Bark Beetle and other threats to forest health.
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Migratory Species/Habitat Management
In cooperation with The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, the Audubon Society, Bat Conservation International, Pronatura Noroeste and other partners, the US Forest Service works to ensure sound natural resource management for species of highest conservation concern and their wintering habitats. The US Forest Service helps improve ecosystems and biodiversity and identify important habitat areas for migratory birds in the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean. Protecting and restoring ecosystems includes: stabilizing streambeds, re-vegetating disturbed areas, construction for wetlands improvement, watershed analysis and restoration, eco-regional planning, and ecological fire management.
RESERVA: Ducks Unlimited Mexico's Training Program
Managed by Ducks Unlimited Mexico, the Latin America Reserve Manager Training Program, or RESERVA, addresses the need for trained personnel to manage natural resources in Latin America and Caribbean -ranked as one of the most critical problems facing conservation activities in the regions. With over 240 managers from 22 countries who have been trained through intensive hands-on field and classroom instruction, the course continues to strengthen institutional capacities to improve natural resource conservation. For the past seventeen years, the US Forest Service has provided trainers and support to participants who would like to attend the course. Partners also include the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Mexico ’s National Commission on Protected Natural Areas and Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
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Protecting Shorebird Habitat in Northern Mexico
The US Forest Service partners with Pronatura Noroeste to conserve important habitat in the states of Sinaloa, Sonora, and Nayarit, located along the Gulf of California in Northern Mexico. Through a series of technical exchanges, Forest Service staff is working with Pronatura Noroeste, community leaders and others to develop a conservation education program that emphasizes the importance of shorebird habitat, such as the wetlands of the Bay of Santa Maria, and links it to the Copper River Delta in Alaska. Several species of shorebirds, such as the western sandpiper, depend on healthy wetlands along the coast of Northern Mexico during the winter months. Partners have been carrying out a variety of activities, including the development of opportunities for bird watching tourism and the development of television programs that outline the importance of shorebirds and other wetland birds and their habitat, such as mangrove forests and coastal mud flats.
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Habitat Restoration in the San Pedro Watershed
The San Pedro River, which originates in the State of Sonora, Mexico and flows north across the U.S.-Mexico border into Arizona, is a crucial habitat corridor for birds and wildlife - over 400 species of birds, including around four million migrating songbirds, stopover each year. The river is also an important source of water for urban centers in Arizona including Sierra Vista and Fort Huachuca. With support from the US Forest Service, partners including Tuscon Audubon Society, the Sonoran Joint Venture, The Nature Conservancy, and Mexico National Forestry Commission (include link), have been working at sites in the Upper San Pedro Watershed on habitat restoration and bird and plant monitoring projects.
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D) Mexico Shorebird Management Plan
Through a joint effort with Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, the US Forest Service and Ducks Unlimited Mexico worked together to complete the Mexican Plan for the Conservation and Management of Shorebirds and their Habitats in Mexico. The main purpose of the initiative is to develop a national strategy that will guide management decisions and develop specific conservation actions to conserve, maintain, and restore priority coastal habitats that shorebirds depend upon during the winter and as stopover areas as they migrate through Mexico.
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E) The Texcoco Lake Project
Texcoco Lake, located in the Central Highlands in the State of Mexico, covers an area of 15,106 hectares of freshwater permanent lakes and shallow seasonal wetlands. The area has been identified as a priority wetland in central Mexico for waterfowl and shorebirds - bird surveys in the area indicate that the lake and associated wetlands constitute an important wintering and stopover area for migratory birds from the US, Canada and Mexico. Once a highly productive wetland, the area has been heavily impacted by urban expansion, agriculture, and the exploitation of surface and underground water resources. Ducks Unlimited Mexico, the National Water Commission of Mexico, and the Metropolitan Autonomous University – Xochimilco Campus are working to develop a conservation plan for Texcoco Lake that will promote environmental education activities, help define local and regional conservation and management strategies, and identify areas to carry out wetland restoration projects.
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F) Coastal Change Detection: Sonora, Sinaloa, Nayarit
The estuaries, marshes and freshwater wetlands along the Gulf of California in Northern Mexico provide important habitat for migratory bird species from the US (including birds from the Copper River Delta in Alaska), Canada and Mexico. For instance, wetlands along the coast of Sinaloa have been designated as wetlands of hemispheric importance for shorebirds and are included in the top 28 wetlands for waterfowl in Mexico. The coast of Nayarit, characterized by a complex of coastal lagoons, mangrove swamps and large extensions of intertidal flats, provides wintering habitat for several waterfowl and other water bird species such as pintails, snow geese, white pelicans, herons and cranes. At the same time, Mexico ’s coastal wetlands are threatened by urban expansion, agricultural development, and the shrimp farm industry. During the last decade, the rapid growth of the shrimp farm industry has contributed to changes in hydrology and the destruction of important wildlife habitat, such as mangrove swamps. In Sinaloa alone, the construction of over 230 shrimp farms has impacted over 22,000 hectares of habitat. The US Forest Service is providing support to Ducks Unlimited Mexico to determine coastal habitat loss in the states of Sonora, Sinaloa, and Nayarit using satellite images. The information being collected will be used to generate a database that will be made available to decision-makers at the state and federal level in Mexico.
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G) Ecoregional Planning: Partnering with The Nature Conservancy
The US Forest Service provided support to The Nature Conservancy to carry out ecoregional analyses in key Mexican ecosystems such as the Maya Forest. An ecoregional plan is seen as a conservation blueprint, which identifies a network of sites characterized by certain representative natural communities, ecological processes and species, and which, if protected, may guarantee the biological integrity of any given ecoregion. These sites are selected on the basis of rigorous science-based analyses of existing ecoregional biodiversity data, socio-economic and cultural data, threats and opportunities and institutional capacities. Through consultations with experts and compilation of data, this process maps and analyzes patterns of biological diversity, population, land use-land cover, and water resources. The Nature Conservancy and a variety of other partners use the results to select sites important to protecting the unique biological diversity of Mexico.
The Maya Forest encompasses the lowlands of the Yucatan Peninsula and Lacandon forests of southern Mexico, as well as areas of Belize and northern Guatemala where the Mayan People once settled. The ecoregional planning process includes information on Tabasco, northeastern Oaxaca, northern Chiapas and southern Veracruz. Covering almost 300,000 km2, this region includes pine forests, dry and moist tropical forest, wetlands, and mangroves. Several of Mexico's most prominent protected areas are dedicated to conserving not only the natural resources but also the important Mayan archeological and cultural resources of the area.
The Nature Conservancy is also working with a range of partners in the Maya Forest to develop a framework to guide conservation efforts in the region. Partners from Mexico and other countries will recommend a network of conservation areas, and a set of strategies and institutional alliances to conserve the large majority of ecological processes, natural communities and species representative of the biodiversity within the Maya Forest.
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H) Protection of Mexican Grasslands
Together with The Nature Conservancy, the US Forest Service is helping to improve management in Mexico and the US in order to maintain critical habitat for grasslands birds. These birds, such as the Ferruginous Hawk and the Mountain Plover, migrate annually in a corridor through the Midwestern US and northern Mexico. In order to collect data on the grasslands birds, US Forest Service experts and Mexican partners continue to inventory and monitor populations in the Janos grasslands of Northern Chihuahua, Mexico and La Soledad Grasslands in the Mexican states of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and San Luis Potosi. They are also conducting exchange visits to familiarize land managers with habitat conditions and to develop further technical assistance to improve protection of the avian populations.For other migratory species and habitat management activities in Mexico, please see our Global Wings site.
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Watershed Planning in the Sierra Gorda
The Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, covering almost a million acres in central Mexico, is the most ecologically diverse bio-reserve in Mexico. This important area is threatened by a variety of uses from adjacent dependent rural communities. A local non-governmental organization, the Grupo Ecológico de Sierra Gorda, has been designated as the Reserve's directorate, and develops and implements management plans for protection and sustainable use of the area.
In order to effectively plan and manage the Reserve, the organization needs information to understand the resources and conditions of the reserve. Unfortunately, there have been virtually no systematic inventories of habitat or biota for the region. Over the past six year, the US Forest Service and a US-based non-governmental organization, Wolftree Inc, have been responding to needs for assistance in the areas of design and implementation of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem inventories; watershed assessment; and technical review and assistance in forestry, road/trail improvements, and environmental education. The project includes training for local partners as well as the compilation of important information to support planning in the reserve.
Interdisciplinary teams of Forest Service experts led the initial inventory efforts by undertaking pilot inventories of forests and selected river ecosystems within the reserve. In forested areas, tests of different inventory methodologies were used to select the one most appropriate for the reserve; local residents were then trained in these techniques. Local residents and students also participated in inventory efforts in eight river systems to characterize riparian and aquatic resources, particularly within the highly protected core zone of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve.
After completing initial inventories, US Forest Service experts have continued to assist the reserve management in watershed assessments and landscape-level analysis and planning. Further capacity-building to understand biological resources will be complemented by on-the-ground efforts to mitigate environmental impacts of roads and other infrastructure; to design trails, and to prepare local guides for ecotourism.
In 2007 a US Forest Service team worked with Reserve staff to present a suite of workshops and activities aimed at improving community and rural roads to reduce environmental impacts. The courses were designed to build awareness of watershed concepts, highlight the risks to aquatic resources posed by roads, and encouraging improved road management policies and use of improved road design, construction and maintenance techniques.
For other watershed management activities please see: Klamath National Forest and El Ocote Biosphere Reserve
For more information on the Reserve, news updates and projects, click here.
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Mexico harbors a wide variety of ecosystems and biodiversity, much of which is represented in its natural protected areas. With almost no federal public lands, Mexico's protected areas rely on interdisciplinary approaches and close collaboration with residents and other actors in order to administer and protect the land and resources. While the US Forest Service benefits from learning from these experiences, the Agency assists its counterparts in conserving and managing Mexico's extensive system of protected areas through technical assistance, training, and exchanges with local, regional and national Mexican staff.
In Southern Mexico, through the US Agency for International Development’s TIES University Partnership Program, the US Forest Service and Colorado State University are supporting the development of an alliance of Government and nongovernmental organizations to strengthen protected area capacity. Initial regional training programs have focused on infrastructure design, layout, construction and maintenance.
Klamath National Forest and El Ocote Biosphere Reserve
The El Ocote Biosphere Reserve, in northwestern Chiapas, is one of the last remaining areas of intact tropical forest in Mexico. The Reserve includes the spectacular canyon of the La Venta River, a karst formation with high, sheer walls and an extensive cave system. A number of rare and endemic birds inhabit El Ocote: the Navas wren, great currasow, black penelope, king vulture, ornate hawk-eagle, and solitary eagle. In addition, it provides a habitat for North American migrant birds during the non-breeding season.
The Klamath National Forest, in northern California, has collaborated with the El Ocote Biosphere Reserve since 1993 on habitat management, fire management, geographic information systems for natural resource planning, and watershed analysis and planning.
One important area of cooperation is a five-year effort in avian and wildlife monitoring. The intent is to monitor habitat utilization by bird populations in a variety of settings, and to determine effects of changes in vegetation such as by fire or grazing. The US Forest Service trains Reserve personnel and residents on avian inventory techniques, which include tracking migratory species such as the wood thrush, Swainson's thrush, Kentucky warbler, Canadian warbler, black and white warbler, American redstart, hermit warbler, ovenbird, and yellow-breasted chat.
In addition, Klamath personnel have worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Reserve to inventory bat populations in shade coffee plantations and adjacent forest. Studying neotropical migratory birds and other wildlife will help the Reserve staff develop guidelines for forestry and agroforestry projects that maximize biodiversity and improve habitat management. Currently, personnel from the Klamath and US Fish and Wildlife Service have been working with the Reserve to collect data on the endangered ornate hawk eagle (Spizaetus ornatus). Findings, such as information on distribution, nesting sites and prey species, will be incorporated into public awareness and environmental education programs in local schools.
In the last several years, the Klamath has begun working intensively with El Ocote to monitor the health of its watersheds and to develop management plans to preserve critical areas and functions. Experts from the US Forest Service are assisting in compiling satellite and GIS/GPS coverage of the watershed and its tributaries, topography, and land use. Several reservoirs and tributaries are being monitored to collect information on water quality and on sedimentation rates. Information is also being collected on aquatic resources through a fisheries inventory and analysis in order to understand what species are present in the watershed and their distribution. A framework for watershed management planning is being developed based on the needs and issues of the Reserve. A watershed management plan will provide support for developing other activities within El Ocote. For instance, experts from the Klamath National Forest will use the planning to provide guidance on zoning, including areas for recreation and ecotourism infrastructure and activities.
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Partnerships with the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve
Each year the Oyamel fir-topped mountains in the states of Michoacan and Mexico host hundreds of thousands of Monarch Butterflies. These distinctive butterflies migrate thousands of miles each year from the central and eastern Canadian provinces and the eastern and Midwestern United States to central Mexico where they reside in high altitude forests from November through mid-March. This inspiring annual migration occurs over one generation ---which can survive seven to eight months --- and can cover a distance up to 3,000 miles. At the end of winter, the monarchs leave Mexico with the majority migrating through Texas from where they fan out to the Eastern US and Canada, and to the Central Plains states and Prairie Provinces to breed. Unlike the southern migration, the Monarch’s journey north occurs over multiple generations. Given the distance that the Monarch covers during its annual migration, preservation of the migratory phenomena depends on the conservation of many habitats along the flyway and the collaboration of Canada, Mexico and the US. By conserving Monarch habitat along the flyway we are also contributing to the conservation of other species and ecosystems.
Decreed in 2001, the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve significantly strengthened protection of the butterfly's habitat by expanding the land area and management by Mexico's National Commission for Natural Protected Areas. Since 1993, the Forest Service has been working with Reserve managers and partners in the region to build management capacity, to provide guidance to communities for resource management, and to conserve natural resources in the highly protected core zone of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. Staff from the Willamette National Forest and other units has provided training and consultations to the Reserve on forest inventory, GPS/GIS utilization, and design and maintenance of trails. Through a partnership with the Monarch Model Forest, partners developed proposals to help the Model Forest with recreation management, landscape ecology, small-scale wood product development and marketing, and community incentive programs. Working with local communities adjacent to the Monarch Butterfly sanctuaries, project participants worked to reforest lands using native tree species-with the long-term goal of establishing alternative sites for extracting wood. Apart from reforestation, the Model Forest and its partners have worked on recreation and eco-tourism.
Monarch Flyway Conservation Workshop: Because of the critical nature of the State of Texas to monarchs in migration and breeding and because of US Forest Service International Program's interest in linking conservation activities on a continental Basis (using a flyway model) the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the US Forest Service – International Programs co-hosted a Monarch Flyway Conservation Workshop in Mission, Texas on December 6 th & 7 th, 2006. The workshop brought together a diversity of expertise and interest for Monarch Butterfly Conservation. Approximately 50 individuals representing both the public and private sector in Canada, the US and Mexico met to discuss monarch butterfly conservation activities and needs. In a direct result of the workshop, a 9-member Canada, US and Mexico team has been convened to develop a Tri-National Comprehensive Monarch Conservation Plan which will emphasize education, outreach, and community involvement and support.
For more information on US Forest Service activities to conserve the monarch butterfly please see our program on monarch butterflies.
For other protected area management activities in Mexico, please see:
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Sustainable Forestry Practices
The US Forest Service promotes sustainable forestry practices in community and commercial forestry operations to reduce forest loss and degradation. In Mexico, sustainable forestry work is combining assistance at all levels-from consultations with the federal government to training in communities-in forest inventory, monitoring, and certification. Policy makers, concession managers, community forestry groups, private landowners and forestry assessment programs benefit from these efforts. Assistance to communities who are working towards sustainability helps to combat illegal logging by building on the ground capacity to manage their forests and providing opportunities to derive greater benefits – social, economic and ecological - from their forests.
Field Level Tests for Criteria and Indicators in Northern
This initiative focuses on developing, testing, and applying criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management. The Agency strives to link internationally negotiated agreements (the Montreal Process) with locally applied efforts to monitor sustainable forest management through criteria and indicators.
In 1998, the US Forest Service and the Center for International Forestry Research sponsored a North American test of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management in Boise, Idaho. Participants included representatives from government, industry and non-governmental organizations from Canada, Mexico and the United States. Following this exercise, the US Forest Service initiated its own pilot tests, the Local Unit Criteria and Indicators Development project. Mexico's "local unit criteria and indicators" pilot test expands on both these efforts by examining and evaluating a set of local level criteria and indicators for a temperate forest site in northern Mexico, with support from the US Agency for International Development. US Forest Service experts have worked directly with technical staff from Ejido El Largo, a community forestry operation in Chihuahua State, to select a unique set of criteria and indicators that reflect the ecological, economic, and social aspects of the area. These criteria and indicators will allow the ejido to assess its goals and progress in sustainable ecosystem management.
By complementing direct technical assistance to Ejido El Largo with education and coordination with local and state government and non-governmental representatives in Chihuahua, the project has facilitated linkages between the public and private sectors and built support for expanding sustainable forest monitoring to other sites. National government agencies in Mexico, including the National Forest Commission and the National Institute for Agricultural and Forestry Research, are now adapting the methodology and results from Chihuahua to other sites in temperate forests in Mexico. Currently, the US Forest Service and the US Agency for International Development are providing financial and technical assistance to expand the testing of criteria and indicators to three tropical forest sites in the southern State of Quintana Roo. The objective of the project is to work with local researchers and communities to develop a model tropical forest sustainable monitoring program that builds on the experiences and methodology developed in the State of Chihuahua.
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B) Sustainable Community Forest Management
and Market Linkages
The US Forest Service is participating with public and private sector partners, from both the US and Mexico, to provide technical assistance and market linkage support to Mexican community forestry operations who are working towards sustainability. A partnership with the US Agency for International Development, Mexico ’s National Forest Commission, the Rainforest Alliance, and Mexican wood processing industries focuses on improving community management of forest lands and expanding opportunities for private sector and market initiatives.
The goal of the project is to ensure sound natural resource management and increased economic benefits for producers. A pilot initiative in the State of Durango has been working with selected ejidos (community forestry operations) that are certified operations that engage in primary processing and that sell to secondary processors in the region. Recently, the partnership has been expanded to the State of Oaxaca in Southern Mexico. The Forest Service is providing technical assistance to strengthen all aspects of forest management including low impact road design and maintenance, and harvesting techniques and wood processing methods that increase efficiency. The result will be increased log recovery and greater lumber yield without increased environmental impact. Project partners are also providing technical assistance to improve lumber grading and quality, with complementary analysis of supply chain linkages for them to find additional buyers or partners locally, regionally, and internationally.
See the recently Global Leaflet issue on certification to read about community forest management and linkages in Mexico.
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C) Consultations on National Forest
The US Forest Service and other experts continue to share information and to stimulate collaboration through the Forest Inventory, Monitoring, and Assessment Working Group of the North American Forest Commission. The US Forest Service has provided periodic assistance in the last decade to Mexican government agencies on methodologies and planning for developing a national forest inventory and compiling other important information. Working with academic and government institutions, Forest Service experts have shared information on inventory techniques, information analysis and management, program administration, cooperation with state and local partners, and policy linkages.
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