Leaving a Legacy for Future Generations
Watch a video about our work in Mexico.
The northeastern Yucatan Peninsula—stretching across 500,000 hectares of dry and moist forests, wetlands, coastal lagoons and sand dunes—is the first stop for millions of migratory birds crossing the Gulf of Mexico. The region is home to 407 bird species (49 of which are endangered) and 123 mammal species, including jaguar, Baird’s tapir, anteater, howler monkey, ocelot, tigrillo, manatee and the northern tamandua, or collared anteater.
Non-timber products—such as chicle, palm leaves, firewood, charcoal and organic honey—add value to these forests as well.
But a rapidly growing population and real estate and infrastructure projects are reducing the amount of forest cover, creating barriers to wildlife and polluting the underground water supply. In addition, catastrophic wildfires often follow on the heels of tree-toppling hurricanes, both of which are exacerbated by climate change and hot, dry season peaking from March to May.
The Conservancy and Pronatura Peninsula de Yucatan (PPY) purchased a 2,400-hectare property—El Zapotal—containing dry and humid forest, savannas and wetlands. The property is key to reducing pressure to change land uses and provides a platform for working with local landowners and communities whose vision and practices have changed over time.
The Conservancy and PPY have helped local communities obtain annual funding from the National Forestry Commission of more than $1,000,000 to manage and protect their lands, as well as federal funds to train and equip fire brigades to build and maintain 250km of fire breaks annually. The Conservancy also supported coordination among federal, state, and municipal agencies and private land owners to address fire management.
At a larger scale, TNC and PPY led a comprehensive conservation action planning process for the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula with the participation of local agencies and communities. And the Conservancy helped form an environmental alliance for the Yucatan Peninsula (abbreviated as AAPY in Spanish) with local partners PPY, Amigos de Sian Ka’an, the National Protected Areas Commission, NIños y Crias, and El Eden.
The Conservancy and partners are now focused on developing a mosaic of land uses compatible with conservation to preserve habitat not only for plants and animals, but also for local people who count on nature to provide clean water, clean air, croplands and livelihoods. AAPY is pursuing the following strategies: