Terra Peninsular, one of The Nature Conservancy’s Mexico Program partners, has scored a conservation victory in protecting wetlands with the granting of coastal concessions in Baja California’s San Quintín Bay. With the Conservancy’s help, concessions from Mexico’s Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources were granted to Terra Peninsular on six parcels along 11 miles of shoreline — nearly 96 acres in total — through the ZOFEMAT (Zona Federal Marítimo Terrestre, or Federal Maritime Zone) program.
The Mexican federal government has decreed as public domain all land extending20 meters from the high tide line, a designation that restricts private development onbeaches. However, through the ZOFEMAT program, the Environment Secretary confers development concessions, or permits, for limited time periods — typically 10 years with renewals of up to 50 years. In the past, these concessions were approved for activities such as public works, non-permanent tourism infrastructure, ports and marinas. This, however, is the first time in Mexico ’s history that a non-governmental organization has received a ZOFEMAT concession for the purposes of conservation rather than development.
The 10,000-acre San Quintín Bay — located 200 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border in the state of Baja California — is the largest intact coastal lagoon on the Pacific coast of the U.S. and Baja California. Its surrounding terrestrial habitats include wetlands, dune communities and coastal sage scrub — some of the rarest and most threatened habitat types on Earth.
San Quintin Bay also is one of the most important places along the Pacific Flyway for waterfowl and shorebirds, with 188 species documented at this site. In September 2008 the bay was named part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network as a Site of Regional Importance, and a portion of the coastal landscape covering 13,400 acres was designated as a Ramsar* site in February 2008.
Terra Peninsular will maintain these parcels to preserve the bay’s natural ecological functions and the environmental services it provides. The conservation concessions are the result of work begun in 2001 with a Conservancy-sponsored study to explore this new conservation possibility, and continued in 2006 with the additional financial support of the North America Wetlands Conservation Act. Terra Peninsular is awaiting approval of concessions on three additional parcels totaling 81 acres along five miles of coastline elsewhere in the bay. The locations of the approved concessions and the pending additional parcels are shown on the Terra Peninsular map.
For more information, contact Christiana Ferris at email@example.com
* The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar , Iran in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty calling for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. In all, 159 nations have signed the convention, and 1,847 wetland sites totaling 181 million hectares have been designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.