Mexican conservation group fights threats to Sierra Gorda nature reserve

World Today

Around the world, efforts continue to save important natural habitats. The conservation work of one such organization in Mexico is capturing global attention.

CGTN’s Franc Contreras reports.

Mexico’s Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve is considered one of Latin America’s most unusual nature reserves. It has eight separate ecosystems, where pine forests give way to lowland tropical jungles and hilly, semi-arid deserts.

The reserve has more than 300 species of birds, including the purple breasted hummingbird. Rare black salamanders also live here.

For 30 years, the Sierra Gorda Ecological Group has been working to save this habitat. It creates scores of sustainable businesses for more than 100,000 people living here.

Martha “Pati” Ruiz Corzo directs this globally renown environmental conservation organization.”It’s been a process of forming sustainable cultures through environmental education in the schools. That’s led to persistent energy in the form of marches, parades, theater works, earth festivals, radio programs and mural paintings, ” Ruiz said.

In 2013, Ruiz Corzo won top global prizes for environmental leadership-including the United Nations Champions of the Earth trophy. But after decades of protecting these mostly pristine natural lands, illegal cutting of old growth trees continues. And the presence of free-range cattle erodes the soil.

Besides the threats that these four legged creatures presented, members of the Ecological Group Sierra Gorda said there are other major threats that this reserve is confronting.

Roberto Pedraza Ruiz, Pati Ruiz’s son, says global climate change is another danger. “It’s unstoppable and very rapid and it will change life as we know it on our planet. We are doing away with half of all existing species.”

Some scientists and activists believe time is running out to save the planet. Still, Mexico’s Sierra Gorda Ecological Group continues its fight for this remarkable natural habitat.