On 12 July, land owners conservationists, government authorities, national and international conservation organizations, scientists and business owners met to address the complex and highly urgent task of protecting, restoring and sustainably managing the Water Forest. With over 70 participants, this first meeting of the “Think Tank” group was highly successful.
Developing a long-term conservation plan for The Water Forest (Bosque de Agua) is extremely important for Mexico — the forested region provides water and other vital environmental services to a fifth of Mexico’s total population. Currently, the region is threatened by urban sprawl, land-use changes and illegal logging. A concerted conservation effort is needed to ensure that the water is clean and usable by the people of Mexico City and Mexico at-large.
The Water Forest is also home to many unique plant and animal species and is internationally recognized. Its 237,000 hectares harbor 1.98% of the world’s biodiversity of flora and fauna species, 10% of its species are endemic; and it supplies 100% of the water of two RAMSAR sites: Cienegas de Lerma and the World Heritage Site of Xochimilco.
Participants reviewed the work compiled by the core-organizing group, the Document for the Conservation of the Water Forest, which compiles information on the Water Forest and the urgent need for integrated, long-term, strategic planning for its protection. The document calls for the region to be managed under a Regional Strategic Plan as one protected areas, instead of how it is currently managed and regarded as a ‘mosaic of protected areas.’
As a result of the meeting, participants were better information about the conservation needs of the Water Forest – many made commitments for continued work. The core-working group was strengthened by hearing the participants perspectives and adding two additional members to the core-working group.
This forum and continued effort in Mexico follows on the priorities set by WILD9 Resolution #12: Central Mexico’s Water Forest: Wilderness area of maximum national priority given the ecological services it renders to over 20 million people / El “Bosque de Agua” del Centro de Mexico: Area Silvestre de Maxima Prioridad Nacional dados los servicios ecologicos que les prove a mas de 20 millones de personas.