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Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda

Sierra Gorda, Mexico: Where the Fight against Climate Change Goes Local

Myra Valenzuela's picture

From April 23-25, 2012, a DM team comprised of Ricardo Hernandez (Sr. Environmental Specialist), Angelica Calderon (Information Specialist), Douglas Jimenez (Information Assistant), and Myra Valenzuela (Consultant) visited DM2008 Project “Reducing Impacts of Ranching on Biodiversity.”

Photo Credit: Roberto Pedraza Ruiz - Sierra Gorda SilvestreWith the Rio+20 meetings less than 5 weeks away, climate change has once again taken center stage on the global agenda. Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda IAP (GESG), based in the state of Querétaro, Mexico, is combating climate change through its efforts to establish a conservation-based local economy in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve (Reserve). At almost 384,000 hectares, the Reserve covers 32% of the state’s territory, and it is jointly managed as a public-private partnership by the Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP) and GESG. 
 

As a member of UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves, the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve is one of the most ecologically diverse areas in Mexico and serves as a critical refuge for both migratory and threatened species. However, the practice of extensive cattle grazing by landowners throughout the Reserve poses a threat to the delicate ecosystem. GESG’s GEF-funded project with the Development Marketplace, “Reducing Impacts of Ranching on Biodiversity” addressed just that: financing payments for environmental services to local ranchers in exchange for excluding their cattle from the land and performing conservation activities (e.g. tree planting, soil regeneration, no lumber extraction, no hunting). The DM project also supported 5 pilot farms to showcase best practices for animal husbandry and land management. In addition, GESG pursued certification and verification of sequestered carbon captured in reforestation efforts through the Rainforest Alliance, developing a “gourmet” product of integrated environmental services.