Mexico megadiverse, at risk.

Mexico megadiverse, at risk.

Por Ing. Carlos Alvarez Flores
President of Mexico, Communication and Environment, A.C.


Due to its strategic and fortunate geographical location, which endow it with a complex topography and geology, with diverse climates and microclimates, as well as being practically at the junction of two biogeographic regions, the Neartic and the Neotropical. Mexico is a country that maintains a great biological diversity in its territory. According to international criteria, our country is considered one of the 5 "mega-diverse" countries. They are considered to be between 60 and 70% of the planet's known biological diversity. It is assured that Mexico could have represented in its territory 12% of the terrestrial biodiversity of the great ecosystem that is Earth. In our country we have practically all known types of vegetation, and some special ecosystems, called wetlands, unique on the planet, such as the Cuatrociénegas wetlands in Coahuila.

Mexico ranks first on the planet in reptile species, second in mammals, and fourth in amphibians and plants. We are also world leaders for having more than 50% of our plant species are endemic. These are approximately 15,000. Regarding reptiles and amphibians in Mexico, 57% of reptile species are endemic and 65% of amphibian species are also. In the case of mammals (terrestrial and marine) 43% of these species are endemic.

It is for this reason that our country is a fundamental part of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which is the international instrument that we have given ourselves globally, precisely to raise awareness and create measures for the conservation, sustainable use of biodiversity and the equitable distribution of the benefits derived from the use of its components. This Agreement was signed on June 5, 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by 193 countries and entered into force on December 29, 1993. As a result of the efforts of the Earth Summit within the framework of the Conference of the Nations United Nations on the Environment and this important Convention on Biological Diversity was born together with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the United Nations Convention to combat desertification.

Biological biodiversity includes all life forms: ecosystems, animals, plants, fungi, microorganisms and genetic diversity. All of them must be conserved and used in a sustainable way. Due to the great local and global importance of our megadiverse Mexico, the federal government created since 1992, the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity, CONABIO, which is a permanent Inter-secretarial Commission. The President of the Commission is the head of the Federal Executive Branch. The Technical Secretary is the head of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the heads of nine other Secretariats participate: Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fishing and Food; Social development; Economy; Public education; Energy; Treasury and Public Credit; External relationships; Health and Tourism. It performs its functions through an operational group, which since its creation has been led by Dr. José Sarukan Kermez, as National Coordinator.

However, despite the fact that many of us know the great importance of biodiversity, I believe that we have not been able to establish a true National System for the Conservation of Biological Diversity in Mexico. Not only because a modern and adequate legal framework is necessary for our current needs. Where we can monitor in real time the populations of our animal and plant wealth.
In our country, there is no awareness of the value of our plant and animal species. For example, we are still unable to avoid illegal hunting of exotic birds, eagles, reptiles, turtles for pointing out only some of the best known. Nor have we succeeded in spreading in each of the Mexicans the culture of respect and conservation of our forests and wetlands or of our seas and coasts.

It is essential that we can create germplasm banks of the characteristic species of the most representative ecosystems of our country. It is also a priority that we can conserve, protect and improve biological corridors in natural areas. With actions that allow us to protect and conserve our animal species in natural spaces. For example, our Natural Protected Areas lack economic resources and in many cases modern and adequate management plans to carry out all these actions that allow the full conservation of each Natural Protected Area.

For example, since 1994, our federal government decreed a Yum-Balam Protected Natural Area, with the category of flora and fauna protection area, in the Municipality of Lázaro Cárdenas, Quintana Roo, whose extension is 154,052 hectares. It includes the Yalahau Lagoon, the wetlands and the low and medium forests of the northern portion of the State of Quintana Roo. It is the most important aquifer reserve in the northeast of the Yucatan peninsula. It is a vital area for 30 species of migratory land birds. Its forest ecosystem is made up of trees up to 15 meters high, such as the gum tree, the chaca, the cedar and the ramón. The low forests are made of palo de tinto or palo de Campeche, in addition to chechém, yaxnique, nanche, jícaro and palma. The Tapir inhabits. Tule also abounds in wetlands. It has an extensive network of microcenotes. It has large extensions of mangroves and coastal dunes with flora and fauna. It has registered 311 species of wild fauna. It is estimated that 49% of the herpetofauna of the Yucatan peninsula and 79% of that of the State of Quintana Roo are found in the area. It has unique bird species in Mexico, such as the flycatcher or migratory species that make a unique stop in Mexico, such as galipe gallant, wrasse, dove and black mimic. There are also the peregrine falcon, jabirú stork, hocofaisán, pink flamingo, ocelot turkey. Also two species of crocodiles, roseate spoonbill, king vulture, plumed hawk, crested eagle, bush turkey, cojolite and Yucatan partridge. There are also the cougar, manatee, spider monkey and four species of sea turtles, the cacomixtle and the ocelot; a subspecies of great egret; a subspecies of golden tlacuachillo; howler monkey, anteater, white-lipped boar, temazate; of which are in danger of extinction: spider monkey, jaguar, cougar, ocelot, manatee, loggerhead, hawksbill, white and leatherback turtle, river and swamp crocodiles and jabiru stork. It's amazing that in June 2015, he lacks his management plan.

We also need a National Network of specialized Nurseries to guarantee the production of plant biota that is so lacking. We know that reforestation programs, at the local or regional level, have simply not been able to reverse our loss of plant bark, which, although our federal government insists that it has been reduced to "only 300,000 hectares of forest per year", figures other than that. scandalous. It is necessary to invest more resources in avoiding that we continue losing this great vegetal wealth and also to revert it with the permanent production of said vegetal species by means of a decided, serious and efficient reforestation.

This loss of plant biota has not been meticulously measured in order to assess the serious damage to biological diversity, but I dare say that this loss of forests and jungles can account for 80% of the total loss of biodiversity. The other 20% of this loss of our biodiversity is due to the new meteorological conditions that global warming is generating and, of course, we must not forget the factor of chemical contamination that is carried out on a daily basis through the use and abuse of toxic pesticides. that we continue to use irresponsibly in our country, in addition to the indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers.
Our excessive and uncontrollable urban development, in addition to our industrial growth, is the other pressure factor on our ecosystems and consequently helps the loss of our biological diversity. We know perfectly well that the Ecological Territorial Planning Programs are not respected by the City Councils, nor in many cases by the state governments themselves.

Es urgente que tengamos una Ley Nacional de Mares y Costas, debido a la falta de una política pública enfocada específicamente a ordenar y controlar el desarrollo turístico en nuestros 1,903 km de playas y costas. Tenemos 20 estados costeros en nuestro país. La actividad turística en nuestras playas y costas es fundamental para la generación de empleos y aprovechamiento sustentable de nuestros ecosistemas. Pero será necesario que tengamos una nueva forma de visión de dicho desarrollo. Es indispensable que aceptemos que no hemos dado un correcto trato a nuestras costas en materia de conservación de manglares. Tampoco podemos decir que la Ribiera Maya es un ejemplo en el respeto a nuestros planes de desarrollo urbano que respeten las reglas originales de densidad habitacional hotelera. En realidad lo que hemos visto en esta importante zona turística de nuestro país, ha sido un desorden y poco respeto por los planes originales de desarrollo urbano que fueron realizados por la Secretaría de Desarrollo Urbano y Ecología, Sedue, en los años 80’s. Si revisamos los actuales planes de desarrollo urbano del corredor que va desde Cancún hasta Tulum, podemos darnos cuenta de las enormes modificaciones a dichos planes, que han sido producto de la presión de los grupos poderosos inmobiliarios y grupos hoteleros nacionales y extranjeros que han puesto sus intereses económicos por encima de los criterios de conservación y aprovechamiento sustentable planteados en nuestras leyes ambientales, sobre todo en el incumplimiento de las condicionantes que se les han impuesto en los resolutivos de impacto ambiental que han obtenido para poder operar.

Las necesidades alimentarias de nuestro país, debido a su crecimiento poblacional nos obligan a modernizar nuestras viejas costumbres intensivas de producción agrícola mediante el uso y abuso de plaguicidas tóxicos y fertilizantes químicos. Ya están al alcance de todos las nuevas formas de producción de alimentos, mediante nuevas formas menos agresivas a nuestros ecosistemas y a nuestra biodiversidad. La eco-agricultura o agro-ecología sustentable nos ayudarán como el único camino viable para poder seguir obteniendo ese sustento indispensable de los seres humanos que son los productos vegetales y animales que nos provee la maravillosa diversidad biológica.

El pasado 5 de junio del 2015, en la conmemoración del Día Mundial del Medio Ambiente, nuestro Subsecretario General de la ONU y Director Ejecutivo del Programa de Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente, Achim Steiner sentenció “de una economía del desperdicio a un desperdicio del planeta” en clara referencia al desperdicio de 300 millones de toneladas de alimentos anuales a nivel global. Y aclaró que nuestro sistema alimentario (global) es responsable del 80 % de la desforestación y es la principal casusa de la pérdida de especies y biodiversidad. Y también es responsable del uso del 70 % del agua dulce de planeta. Y citó un ejemplo significativo: para producir una hamburguesa de carne con papas fritas, es necesario es uso de 2,500 litros de agua en su proceso de producción.

Los retos están planteados: la falta educación ambiental y conciencia de los propios mexicanos para ayudar a conservar y proteger nuestra gran diversidad biológica. Modificando de forma sustancial nuestro comportamiento respecto a la importancia y respeto a nuestra biodiversidad. Modernización y actualización de nuestro marco normativo. Uso de las tecnologías de la comunicación para monitorear en tiempo real nuestros activos de biodiversidad. Producción decidida de especies vegetales y animales mediante los bancos de germoplasma. Viveros especializados. Apoyo inmediato a las Áreas Naturales Protegidas. Y sobre todo la decisión de los tres niveles de gobierno, federal, estatal y municipal de invertir muchos más recursos económicos en lo verdaderamente importante: la conservación y protección de nuestra diversidad biológica, que sin ella, simplemente no existiría nuestro futuro, ni como país ni como especie. Es urgente.


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