Land Conservation

Expanding Conservation and Sustainable Rural Development.

Despite their enormous value, forests are facing increasing pressure.

Nature's value rarely figures in economic decisions, and we continue to sacrifice natural systems as we expand our production of food, energy and other needed resources. This deepens cycles of poverty by threatening food security, reducing access to clean water and increasing vulnerability to climate change.

Healthy forests sustain our economies, supply our water and energy, and clean our air. They sustain crops and millions of people's livelihoods.

In Mexico, we safeguard the Mesoamerican Forest Corridor and Maya Forest by:

  • Protecting forests, people and livelihoods.
    • We are working to build a green economy, based on social inclusion and low carbon emissions, through improved and intensified practices in agriculture, ranching and forestry to slow down deforestation and forest degradation.
  • Transforming practices, policy and incentives to expand sustainable rural development and forest conservation.
    • We are piloting demonstration sites that showcase Integrated Landscape Management - a model for building resilience and adaption to climate change by conserving forests through sustainable rural productive systems.
  • Inspiring large scale adoption of a sustainable rural development model.
    • We aim to strengthen nature and people against the impacts of climate change.

Doña Esther Sánchez Monteal, from the Ejido Francisco J. Mujica, in Hopelchén, Campeche working in her milpa (corn field). P

Protecting forests, people and livelihoods.

Above, Esther Sanchez Monteal is from the Ejido Francisco Mujica, Campeche, and is a participant in Mexico's REDD+ project. She explains, "When my husband died I was 29. I became mother, father and farmer... I am grateful that there were people who brought this project to us. I learned a lot at the workshops. I now use my plots for agriculture and conservation. I grow maize, aloe and vegetables. I was able to show that women can work the land, too. I like the soil. I live thanks to it. The soil is a mother and I am a mother, too.” 

TNC, working through the Mexico REDD+ Program, financed by USAID, has pioneered an effort to place gender considerations at the forefront of sustainable development efforts in Mexico.

  • Over the last six years, TNC along with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), has implemented a strategy to effectively design and structure legal instruments and public policy for gender equality in forest conservation.
  • Through this work, gender considerations were incorporated into eight different policies and programs, including the National Climate Change Program and the National REDD+ Strategy. This will ensure that Mexico’s path towards a rural sustainable development model contains a gender perspective at the forefront.

To learn more:


Transforming practices, policy and incentives to expand sustainable rural development and forest conservation.

Above, Rancher Jose Palomo, stands under the shade trees in his "silvopastoral" pasture at his ranch Los Potrillos in Becanchen, Yucatan.

  • The Nature Conservancy works with landowners, communities, and governments in Mexico to promote low-carbon rural development through the design and implementation of improved policy and practice in agriculture, ranching, and forestry.
    • In the Maya Forest, we are working with farmers like Palomo to help transition to "silvopastoral" ranching practices, which increases cattle yields through a mixed grass/shrub/tree ecosystem. The shade lessens stress of tropical sun and helps cattle gain and keep weight.
    • We have worked with over 100 communities around Mexico to pilot sustainable practices in ranching, forests and agriculture, transforming land use over 133,000 hectares.
    • We have organized dozens of farmer-to-farmer exchanges and workshops to build capacity from the ground up— nothing is more powerful than a farmer hearing from another farmer that a new practice provides greater yields, lower costs, and better environmental outcomes. 
    • Watch our video to learn about sustainable agriculture techniques in Mexico.
  • We are also working with communities to reduce human and ecological vulnerability to climate change.
    •  With more frequent floods, less reliable water supplies, increasing storms, among other factors, we are helping farmers in Chiapas transition to more resilient farming and agricultural practices.
    • Watch our video to learn about how we are helping communities combat the negative impacts of climate change.
    • TNC's Mesoamerican Forest Coordinator, Alejandro Hernandez, was born and raised in Chiapas. He has dedicated his life to breaking the vicious cycle climate change is having on his home. Read more here.

dionisio 1

Inspiring large scale adoption of a sustainable rural development model.

Above, 79-year-old Dionisio Yam Moo checks on his corn in his "milpa" personal agricultural field. He has adopted his own method of conservation agriculture planting beans high in nitrogen below his corn plants.

Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is a sprawling, 25 million-acre expanse of rocky jungle famed for Maya ruins and awe-inspiring wildlife like jaguars, scarlet macaws and howler monkeys. The heart of Maya culture, this is the largest forest in Mexico and a vital part of the Maya Forest, which extends through parts of Belize and Guatemala, and—after the Amazon—is the second-largest tropical rain forest of the Americas.

The region is one of the world’s most important carbon store-houses and is now a bulwark in global efforts to tackle climate change.

In December 2016, the Yucatan’s three state governments and more than 70 companies, NGOs and community leaders committed to a goal of zero net-deforestation on the peninsula by 2030. An unparalleled example of inter-institutional coordination, the Yucatan Peninsula Partnership for Sustainability (ASPY 2030 for its acronym in Spanish), calls for the restoration of nearly 5 million acres of degraded lands, and ensures that at least 50 percent of the Peninsula is managed sustainably by 2030.

  • As the leader of Mexico’s REDD+ program for the past six years, TNC has laid a solid foundation for ASPY’s implementation. We have worked with hundreds of communities in the Yucatan to mainstream sustainable practices in ranching, forestry and agriculture that improve livelihoods, increase productivity and deter deforestation.
  • TNC and partners have created a sophisticated mapping system via high-resolution satellite imagery and a monitoring platform to aid forest management on the ground, guide land use decisions and monitor deforestation events in near-real time.
  • These efforts have propelled Mexico to be one of three countries in the world accepted into the World Bank’s Carbon Fund,opening Mexico’s pathway to begin selling carbon credits to this fund. The revenue will be funneled back to communities,helping them expand low-carbon practices that build resilience and halt deforestation
    • Watch our film, I am Maya, to see how climate change is affecting indigenous communities (like Dionisio's) in Mexico and what those communities are doing about it.
    • Read our "Maya Gold" article to learn more about Dionisio Yam Moo and his community. 

"By conserving the Americas’ second largest lungs (The Maya Forest), the Yucatan is playing its part in COP and its international agreements. We are working to uphold these accords and to advance our environmental frontier while supporting development in our states. We are integrating businesses, civil society and government authorities as a team, to move toward productive and sustainable development. ... We need to leave abetter world for our children.” - Rafael Alejandro Moreno Cárdenas, Governor of Campeche Mexico


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