Mexico

Protecting a Unique Cloud Forest in Veracruz, Mexico

Project Cost: $64,592

Funding Raised: $64,592

$64.59 per acre (1 acre = 43,560 sq ft)
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2X The Impact

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

The proposed Coatepec Protected Area is on the windward slopes of the Cofre de Perote Mountain, in the central part of Veracruz, Mexico. This area lies at the southern end of the Sierra Madre Oriental in confluence with the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. The region has high biodiversity and endemism, the result of complex topography and geology which create diverse microclimates. In addition, two major biogeographic zones, the Nearctic and the Neotropical, convene here. Hence, the region is home to species with varying ecological and geographical affinities.

Tropical Montane Cloud Forest (TMCF) dominates the proposed area, along with the transition zone into Pine-Oak and Fir Forest. Tropical Montane Cloud Forest occupies less than 1 percent of the total area of Mexico, but is the country’s most biodiverse vegetation type. The TMCF also has a high rate of plant, amphibian, reptilian and avian endemism. Unfortunately, 90 percent of this forest in the project area has been destroyed, and the rest is in imminent danger. Rainforest Trust and local partner Pronatura Veracruz seek $64,592 to protect and manage 1,000 acres of habitat for three Critically Endangered salamanders.

Photo: Cloud Forest. Photo by J. Paulo Carbajal-Borges.

Fast Facts

Location:
Veracruz, Mexico

Size:
1,000 acres

Price per Acre:
$64.59

Key Species (Based on IUCN Red List):
Pygmy Splayfoot Salamander (CR), Townsend’s Salamander (CR), Veracruz Pygmy Salamander (CR), Hickel’s Fir (EN), Terrestrial Arboreal Alligator Lizard (EN), Veracruz Green Salamander (EN), Mesoamerican Yew (EN)

Habitat:
Cloud forest

Threats:
Logging, agricultural encroachment

Action:
Designation

Local Partner:
Pronatura Veracruz

Financial Need:
$64,592

Total Carbon Storage (Mt Co2):
128,971 metric tons

Biodiversity

The project region has high biodiversity and endemism. Within the 1,000 acres, at least 10 hold threatened species.

This land is home to the Critically Endangered Pygmy Splayfoot Salamander, Townsend’s Salamander and Veracruz Pygmy Salamander. None of these species live in any protected areas, and they all need urgent habitat protection. Other threatened species in the area include the Endangered Veracruz Green Salamander, Lesser Bromeliad Treefrog and Terrestrial Arboreal Alligator Lizard. Researchers may also continue to discover new species in the region.

Photo: Endangered Terrestrial Arboreal Alligator Lizard. Photo by Luis Canseco.

Challenges

The project region has a long history of natural resource mismanagement. Hence, human activities have had an impact for some time.

It’s also one of the most densely populated forest regions in Veracruz, with approximately 100 inhabitants/km2, over the national average for forest regions. This dense human population has put strong pressure on the forest. Activities such as illegal logging and agricultural encroachment have caused forest cover fragmentation and decline. Ninety percent of the TMCF and Pine-Oak forests in the project region are already gone.

Photo: Deforestation. Photo by Jeronimo Vasquez.

Communities

No communities live within the boundaries of the proposed protected area (there are a few small farmhouses). But the six main surrounding communities support the protected area.

Communities will have direct involvement in the decree of Voluntary Conservation Area since the project lands will come from their ejidos (common lands). They will also be part of the “vigilance brigades” of the new protected area. The six communities focus much of their economy on wood production in managed forests, agriculture (potatoes and corn) and livestock management. Productive activities such as sustainable timber extraction and low impact crops will continue taking place in the protected area. The project will also generate some temporary jobs for the communities including fence construction, guiding and protected area patrolling.

Photo: A farmhouse inside the protected area. Photo by Pronatura Veracruz.

Solutions

This land contains the last remaining forest patches in the region. Hence, conservation is urgent. And the pressure on ecosystems is only growing.

Productive activities, such as potato cultivation, are booming in the region. So, to establish the new protected area, the local communities have agreed to integrate 1,000 acres of land into the national/state protected area system. Communities will also mark the protected area’s boundaries. The partner has created alliances with local communities and with the federal and state governments, who will collaborate to achieve these goals. The 1,000-acre protected area will be a buffer area and connect the current project with the Cofre de Perote National Park. Pronatura Veracruz will align the management program with the forest’s current extractive and non-extractive activities. Productive activities such as sustainable timber extraction and low-impact crop cultivation will continue taking place in PA in the buffer area. The partner will develop protected area activity zones and management plans with communities as well as local and state governments. By integrating this area into the national/state system of protected areas, it becomes eligible to apply for funds that support the management plan. (Cloud Forest. Photo by John Leszczynski.)