Fighting fire to protect and restore Mexico’s ecosystems
The Government, through the UK-Mexico Sustainable Development Dialogue, is working with Mexico’s National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) on a project building national capacity for the development of adaptation measures to reduce the vulnerability of protected areas to climate change.
The project is an example of how the UK is working internationally to help combat the affects of climate change on some of the world’s most important ecosystems and biodiversity.
Protecting ecosystems from fire
One focus of the project is to build the capacities of the CONANP in fire issues and the restoration of ecosystems, a key part of its strategy for climate change and protected areas.
On May 27 CONANP presented fire-fighting equipment and tools to three fire brigades of Morelos and Puebla. Thanks to this equipment – which includes chainsaws, machetes, helmets, uniforms, shovels, drip torches and radios – forest fires will be attended promptly, helping to reduce impacts in both states.
Addressing biodiversity loss for ecosystem conservation
Ecosystem conservation within protected areas is a key priority for CONANP, which is addressing current drivers of biodiversity loss, including land use change, deforestation, introduction of invasive species and overexploitation.
Climate change is becoming one of the main drivers of change for ecosystems. CONANP is working to adapt to climate change and reduce ecosystem vulnerability, by facing known threats such as wildfires, droughts, flooding and especially terrestrial and marine ecosystem degradation – both key areas for ecological adaptation.
Protected areas: representing Mexico’s diverse ecosystems
National Protected Areas are terrestrial or water portions of the national territory that represent diverse ecosystems where the original environment has not been essentially changed. Protected areas produce ecological benefits that are becoming better known and appreciated.
CONANP handles 174 federal natural areas across 25,384,818 hectares. Protected areas are classified in the following categories: biosphere reserves, national parks, natural monuments, natural resources protection areas, wildlife protection areas, sanctuaries.
Reducing the vulnerability of protected areas to climate change
The recent presentation of fire-fighting equipment is just one of the project’s many activities to help protect Mexico’s ecosystems. Other activities have included:
- Delivery of equipment for restoration purposes
- Training workshops for brigades
- Development of an instruction manual for community brigades
- Research into climate change scenarios in southern Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula
The brigades have received proper training and instruments to perform the brave tasks required to combat and mitigate forest fires at the local level. Thanks to this programme, CONANP will increase its capacity to restore ecosystems in several states of Mexico besides Morelos, Puebla and Mexico City.
The May event took place at the Amatlán de Quetzalcóatl hotel, owned and run by the indigenous community of the same name, located in the “Tepozteco”, a natural protected area of Morelos. To conclude the event, women who work at the Amatlán de Quetzalcóatl Hotel cooked delicious tamales for the guests and participants.
Attracting funding for ecosystem protection
In addition to funding of £453,000 from the British Government, the project has attracted approximately £683,000 co-funding from other sources. The project is implemented by the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP), the federal government agency responsible for the conservation and management of protected areas in Mexico.
Update from Antonieta Castro, UK-Mexico SD Dialogue (13th August 2010)
A couple of weeks ago, HM Ambassador to Mexico Judith Macgregor visited one of the protected areas, La Malinche, near Mexico City to witness some of the work that has to date been done there as part of the UK-funded project. She met community fire brigade volunteers who have been trained and equipped thanks to the project and was greatly impressed by their interest in protecting their forest.
Explanation of fire-fighting methods
The ambassador also saw some concrete examples of environmental services provided by the natural protected area such as water supply, through the digging of holes in the ground to collect water to inject into acquifers, which then supply water to surrounding cities such as Puebla and parts of Mexico City.
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