Conservationsts and Developers Face Off Over Pristine Mexican Reserve

More than 700 academics and researchers affiliated with the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation have called on the Mexican government to put a halt to the development of one of its richest biological treasures, the Chamela-Cuixmala biosphere reserve in Jalisco state on the Pacific Ocean.

Tourism complexes and condominiums for sun-starved northerners are sprouting like mushrooms in Mexico’s beloved coastal destinations like Cancun and Cabo San Lucas. Meanwhile investors and developers are scouring the nation’s coasts for virgin beaches to build the next wave of exclusive, luxurious digs for those who don’t want to mingle with the lobster-pink, beer-soaked masses. And Mexican environmentalists are increasingly finding themselves up against this formidable phalanx of developers who have a habit of getting their way even when sensitive mangrove ecosystems or endangered species are in question. The latest hot spot is the reserve, where two proposed projects, La Tambora and Marina Careyes spearheaded by some of the country’s most powerful businessmen, could cause a particular brand of ecological havoc. The 32,473-acre reserve is ultra-rich in biodiversity with 1,200 plant, 427 vertebrate, and more than 2,000 insects species.

According to a recent study by the Biology Institute of Mexico’s preeminent university, the UNAM, the projects will cause the fragmentation of the vegetation, the gradual loss of species, greater water scarcity and the eventual disappearance of the egg-laying zones for sea turtles at risk of extinction.

Mexico’s environment and natural resources secretariat, Semarnat, has signed off on environmental impact statements for the projects, but the scientists are urging them to reconsider and we do too, at least until a way to go forward with the smallest environmental footprint possible is found. Via ::La Jornada

Tags: Biodiversity | Conservation | Mexico | Tourism

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