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La Sepultura Biosphere Reserve

Partnering with Local Communities

Located in the Sierra Madre mountain range in Chiapas, La Sepultura Biosphere Reserve is one of the most diverse forest reserves in Mexico and the world. The reserve covers 413,253 acres and protects 10 of the 19 vegetation types in Chiapas, including cloud forest, tropical forest, and pine-oak forest. It is crucial that we understand the impacts of fire and the interactions among the fire regimes in these different habitats in La Sepultura and educate managers, policy-makers and community leaders on ecologically appropriate actions.

Addressing Fire Threats

Virtually all of Mexico's protected natural areas include a combination of private lands and communal lands held in trust for peasant farmers. There are restrictions on land use and land conversion, but successful conservation lies with the reserve staff's ability to work with local communities to develop compatible uses.

The Nature Conservancy has taken several steps to address fire-related conservation threats in Southern Mexico, including La Sepultura Biosphere Reserve:

  • Convened the Southern Mexico Fire Management Forum in 2001, which brought together government officials, land managers, fire practitioners, scientists and fire experts for an unprecedented national-level dialogue about the ecological costs and benefits of fire in Mexico
  • Launched an ongoing mentor/exchange program with Nature Conservancy fire managers in Arkansas
  • Developed an integrated ecological fire management plan for La Sepultura that will help us begin to meet the needs of local people and identify the appropriate role of fire needed in the reserve's threatened pine-oak ecosystem and montane broadleaved forest
  • Through the Latin American and Caribbean Fire Learning Network, created a network of trained, experienced fire management practitioners who will provide technical assistance to local sites and partners
  • Designed a pilot project to capture local fire knowledge and blend it with scientific knowledge and assumptions to determine appropriate fire regimes and fire management practices for the reserve, while continuing to meet the needs of the local community.

Learn more about the Conservancy's work in Mexico.

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