MEXICO

Land Purchase to Consolidate the Monte Mojino Reserve

Project Cost: $170,845

Funding Raised: $170,845

$131.52 per acre (1 acre = 43,560 sq ft)

100% of your donation goes towards Conservation Action.

2X The Impact

Thanks to generous support from our donors, we have successfully reached our fundraising goal for this project.

Monte Mojino Reserve is located within the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range that runs the length of most of northern Mexico. Since 2004, Rainforest Trust has been working to expand this reserve through strategic land acquisitions in partnership with Naturaleza y Cultura Sierra Madre. The primary habitat is tropical dry forest, one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world and only 5 percent of which is legally protected. This region is exactly where the nearctic biodiversity region meets the neotropical region. As such, this area contains elements that are characteristic of both regions, including both desert and tropical species. The Goode’s Thornscrub Tortoise (Gopherus evgoodei) was discovered in the reserve in 2016. The Endangered Lilac-crowned Amazon is an obligated cavity nester, and Alamos holds one of the highest levels of habitat for cavity-nesting species in Mexico, with its mature forest and large trees. While the conservation value of this reserve has been recognized, nearby land is still being used for cattle grazing, wood extraction and illegal hunting.

Rainforest Trust and its local partner Naturaleza y Cultura Sierra Madre seek $170,845 to purchase 1,299 acres of land to expand the Monte Mojino Reserve. The reserve is located inside of a federally protected area. However, land within the protected area is privately owned and the protections are weak, meaning that activities such as charcoal production, mining, cattle ranching and other extractive activities are allowed with government permits on individually owned pieces of land. Purchasing private property and adding it to the reserve provides a much higher level of enforced protection and creates contiguous habitat for the unique species located in this area.

Photo: Waterway in the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountain Range. Photo by James Liu.

 

Fast Facts

Location:
Sierra Madre Occidental Mountain Range, Northern Mexico

Size/ Acres:
1,299 acres

Key Species:
Lilac-crowned Amazon Parrot (EN), Virgin’s Palm (EN), Yaqui Catfish (EN), Goode’s Thornscrub Tortoise (NE)

Habitat:
Tropical dry forest, nearctic-neotropical ecotome

Threats:
Cattle ranching, charcoal production, mining, wood extraction, illegal hunting

Action:
Expand the Monte Mojino Reserve to prevent extractive activities

Local Partner:
Naturaleza y Cultura Sierra Madre

Financial Need:
$170,845

Price per Acre:
$131.52

Total Carbon Storage (Mt CO2):
111,000

Biodiversity

Monte Mojino Reserve is extensively biodiverse, and it provides habitat to one of the rarest cycad species with an estimated worldwide population size of only 500-1,000 individuals, all occurring in northwestern Mexico.

The cycad, called Virgin's Palm, is threatened by land conversion and plant extraction for gardens and collections. The reserve is also home to the Lilac-crowned Amazon, a brightly colored bird that faces threat from capture due to domestic and international wildlife trade. Poaching of this bird is most common outside of nature reserves where they are unprotected. The Lilac-crowned Amazon is also threatened by deforestation, which leads to a reduction in available breeding sites and food availability. The Goode's Thornscrub Tortoise (Gopherus evgoodei) was discovered within the reserve, and this expansion will preserve key habitat for the species.  

Photo: Endangered Lilac-crowned Amazon Parrot. Photo by Naturaleza y Cultura Sierra Madre.

Challenges

One of the challenges facing conservation in this area is cattle ranching. Cattle ranching is a deeply ingrained cultural component, which makes the idea of not “utilizing the land” inconceivable for many of the people nearby Monte Mojino Reserve.

Rainforest Trust’s partner engages the community in a continuous process of encouraging the ranchers to become involved in conservation actions while seeking ways for them to benefit from the conservation work they are doing. Since many of the properties that compose the reserve were used for cattle grazing, there are small patches of exotic grasses that prevent the natural regeneration of the secondary forest. These patches of grass are a threat to the reserve, as they become fuel for wildfires during the dry season. Despite carrying on yearly wildfire prevention measures, these patches of grass remain a challenge. Climate change is an added stressor to this habitat, exacerbating the wildfire season’s duration and severity in the region.  

Photo: Cattle grazing degrading sensitive habitat. Photo by Naturaleza y Cultura Sierra Madre.

Communities

There are no communities inside the Monte Mojino Reserve, and the current owners of the land will vacate the property after its sale.

The nearest community is El Sabinito Sur (approximately 2km away). The partner’s full-time park rangers live in El Sabinito Sur, and this community participates in our environmental education program for children and the artisan cooperative for women. Other residents of the community are hired to work on projects within the reserve or to guide visiting researchers. By providing education and work opportunities for people within this community, the partner has been able to earn their trust and support. The neighboring ranches around the reserve are inhabited by cattle ranchers, and the partner’s staff members have cultivated good relationships with all of them.  

Photo: Youth eco-club in Alamos village. Photo by James Liu.

Solutions

Rainforest Trust and its local partner Naturaleza y Cultura Sierra Madre seek $170,845 to purchase 1,299 acres of land to expand the Monte Mojino Reserve.

The properties that have become available near the reserve can be purchased by anyone, and other potential buyers may be interested in cattle ranching, mining or illicit activities. By purchasing this property now, our local partner can ensure this property will be safeguarded in perpetuity. To include this 1,299-acre property in the existing 16,800-acre Monte Mojino Reserve, our partner will purchase the property and certify it as a voluntarily protected area. They are partnering with the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas, the government agency that oversees the management of federally protected areas in Mexico. This property, once it is part of the reserve, will become part of the agreements for research and conservation our partner has with academic institutions such as the Technological Institute of Sonora. To ensure the sustainability of the project, our partner will include the property in its ongoing programs that provide financing, including research, environmental education and management. (Photo: Mountaintop in the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountain Range. Photo by James Liu.)