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Conabio »  Regionalización  » Regiones terrestres prioritarias » Acerca de las RTP » Abstract

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Síntesis de información ambiental



The accelerated loss and modification of natural ecosystems that has occurred in Mexico over the last three or four decades, has resulted in an urgent need to strengthen conservation efforts in regions harboring high biological diversity. In this book, a scale map (1:4 million) detailing the location of Mexico’s terrestrial environments with high biodiversity is presented, together with technical information on each area.

The terrestrial regions were identified on the basis of biological criteria, considering also the threats to their biodiversity and opportunities for their conservation. This task was commended to a multidisciplinary workshop of experts held in 1996. In 1999, a second workshop was held to validate the geographical boundaries of these regions. These had been constructed by the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (Conabio) using a geographical information system (GIS), together with updated and detailed maps.

In all, 151 priority terrestrial regions (RTPs) were identified, covering 504 796 km2. The RTPs were spatially defined according to natural features of the landscape, including topography, watersheds, soil and vegetation types, together with the range of distribution of certain key species. The presence of protected natural areas, as well as first hand knowledge provided by the experts were also considered when defining the final boundaries of the RTPs.

The greatest numbers of RTPs occur in the largest states of Mexico, Chihuahua, Sonora and Coahuila, as these still harbor great extensions of largely unaltered natural ecosystems, due to their low human population densities. However, the states of Oaxaca and, especially, Quintana Roo have the highest proportions of their total land surface included in RTPs. According to topographic criteria, the dominant geomorphology of RTPs is montane, as mountainous regions are less attractive for human settlement and thus maintain an adequate ecological integrity. Temperate and tropical forests dominate these, desert scrub and wetlands occurring mostly in RTPs outside of mountainous areas. Perhaps unsurprisingly, more than 95% of Mexico’s protected natural areas are correlated spatially with RTPs.

The results presented in this book are not final. Several regions of Mexico still lack sufficient and reliable information on their biodiversity, and are poorly represented in RTPs. These include the Potosino-Zacatecano altiplane, eastern Chihuahua (the central Chihuahuan Desert), northern Jalisco and the Altos region of the same state, and the Central Depression of Chiapas. In this sense, the present work provides a framework which highlights those regions where greater research efforts are needed to provide more information concerning their biodiversity.

This book also contributes to the international effort to determine hot spots, regions that harbor biodiversity of global significance, but which are highly threatened. The identification of RTPs represents a first step towards identifying such areas at national level.

The impacts of forest fires and forestry activities on the ecological integrity and biological diversity of RTPs are also discussed in this document.

This new publication from Conabio will aid national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) charged with financing conservation efforts in Mexico, in deciding where best to allocate their resources. Likewise, RTPs will provide a useful guide to decision makers, in terms of where to concentrate the different conservation and sustainable use programs implemented by the government. In this context, Conabio expects the National Commission on Protected Natural Areas (Conap) of the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries (Semarnap), to maintain its reliance on RTPs in providing the framework for the incorporation of new reserves within the National System of Protected Natural Areas (Sinap).