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NCI Continues Conservation Efforts in the Dry Forests of Mexico
September 2008

Protecting some of the most biologically diverse and ecologically sensitive habitats in the region

At the Rancho Ecológico – Monte Mojino, the northernmost tropical dry forest in the Americas, NCI's partner Pronatura Mexico received a forest purchase grant from the National Committee of The Netherlands - The World Conservation Union (NC-IUCN) for the purchase of 800 additional acres along the Cuchujaqui River. This purchase protects some of the most biologically diverse and ecologically sensitive habitats in the region. Native endemic catfish will receive additional protection through this purchase in addition to the Mouse Opossum and the Violet-fronted Parrot. The funds will enhance current reserve design that now protects 10,000 hectares of this New World tropical deciduous forest.

Also in this region, the Overbrook Foundation is supporting an analysis of watershed service options and NCI is working with its partner ProNatura to seek additional financing for watershed management. These watersheds are the most biodiverse and sensitive ecosystems in the area, but past misguided water pumping projects have left graveyards of dead cypress and other tropical dry forest species. The town of Alamos (population ~12,000) depends on water from the Chuchajaqui River, in addition to the community of Sabanito, named for the majestic Cypress species that line the riverbanks. Families scattered throughout the region are also keenly aware of the importance of maintaining the local forest which guarantees their water supply.

NCI has also received several generous donations from private donors in the San Diego region, which will enable project leaders to meet with ranchers in the Rancho Ecológico area who control tens of thousands of hectares of tropical dry forest. The project leaders will discuss best practices for the management of the land, and will also use the funds for publicity and to develop and print a management brochure. Since ranchers control 75% of federally protected lands, it is imperative that they practice environmentally-sensitive management techniques. Poorly managed areas can damage the local ecosystem and lead to water pollution problems.

Finally, The CRES group at the San Diego Zoo will be carrying out conservation related research on Palm species at NCI sites in Mexico and Peru. The focus in Mexico will be on developing best practices for sustainable management of a blue palm species along small streams, which can be used for roofing material for the local tourism industry, and for baskets which we plan to sell at the zoo.

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