Eight more Ramsar sites for Mexico

30/09/2008


On World Wetlands Day 2008, 2 February last, the government of Mexico announced the designation of 45 new Wetlands of International Importance, and gradually since then the paperwork for these important new designations is being cleared. These eight new sites, added to the Ramsar List on 29 September 2008, bring Mexico's total number of Ramsar sites to 97, covering an area of 7,010,189 hectares, with the site data for 15 additional wetlands from that WWD announcement still in the pipeline.

Here are brief site descriptions prepared by Ramsar's Mila Llorens for the Annotated Ramsar List.

Complejo Lagunar Bahía Guásimas – Estero Lobos. 02/02/08; Sonora; 135,198 ha; 27º32’N 110º29’W. A wetland ecosystem located in the northwest coast of the Mexican Pacific, with mangrove areas composed of the species Avicennia germinans, Laguncularia racemosa and Rhizophora mangle. It is of great importance for hibernation of aquatic migratory and coastal birds, supporting 4% of the aquatic migratory bird populations in the winter and 9.4% of the coastal birds observed in the northern Pacific coastal zone. Among the bird species found are Egretta rufescens, Rallus longirostris, Rallus limicola, Sterna antillarum, Grus canadensis, Branta bernicla, among others. Mammal species such as Zalophus californianus californianus, Tursiops truncatus, Globicephala macrorhynchus, Delphinus delphis and Myotis vivesi can also be observed. Its bays and estuaries are reproduction, nursery and development grounds for species such as the Blue Shrimp (Penaeus stylirostris). Fishing (mainly shrimp and oyster), agriculture, hunting and extensive livestock are the most common activities undertaken. There is currently a proposal to establish the Aquatic Wildlife (Flora and Fauna) Protection Area “Bahía Lobos”. Ramsar site no. 1790. Most recent RIS information: 2008.

Estero El Chorro. 02/02/08; Jalisco; 267 ha; 19º54’N 105º24’W. An estuarine system located along Mexico’s western central littoral. Its mouth is open only 6 months a year and most of the lagoon is surrounded by low and spiny forest vegetation, as well as some mangrove areas with the species Laguncularia racemosa and Conocarpus erectus. This vegetation allows the site to be an ideal habitat for a great variety of fish, molluscs, crustaceans, reptiles and resident and migratory birds. It is of great importance as resting and feeding grounds for Himantopus mexicanus, Calidris mauri, Catoptrophorus semipalmatus, Ardea alba, and Butorides virescens. Productive activities include artisanal fishing and guided tours through the site. Mangrove deforestation and agricultural expansion are the main threats. Ramsar site no. 1791. Most recent RIS information: 2008.

Estero Majahuas. 02/02/08; Jalisco; 786 ha; 19º50’N 105º21’W. A good representative of the transition zone where biotic elements of the Neartic and Neotropical biogeographic regions come together. The vegetation found in the margins of the marsh is composed mainly of the mangrove species Rhizophora mangle and Laguncularia racemosa, both under special protection. The site supports around 60 species of aquatic birds including Fulica americana, Porphyrula martinica y Gallinula chloropus), Anas spp, Dendrocygna autumnales, Chroroceryle americana, Ceryle alción, Larus heermanni, Sterna elegans, Mycteria americana, Egretta refucens and Ardea herodians. The marsh holds a great number of the crocodile species Crocodylus acutus and the marine turtle Lepidochelys olivacea, which uses the beaches during nesting periods. Traditional river fishing and ecotourism are the main activities undertaken in the site. Among the threats to this ecosystem are mangrove deforestation and extension of agriculture and livestock areas. Ramsar site no. 1792. Most recent RIS information: 2008.

Oasis de la Sierra El Pilar. 02/02/08; Baja California Sur; 180,803 ha; 24º44’N 110º55´W. Located in the western slope of Sierra del Mechudo, the site comprises numerous oases of great hydrological and biological importance, supporting unique fauna species such as the Peninsular clingfish (Gobiesox juniperoserrai) and the Killifish (Fundulus lima), both considered endangered. The oases represent very fragile ecosystems, mainly affected by natural causes such as extreme droughts and human activities including unsustainable agriculture and livestock. Among the main threats that negatively affect the site are the presence of invasive fish species (Tilapia cf. zilli, Poecillia reticulata, Xiphophorus helleri and X. maculatus) and plants (Cryptostegia grandiflora); the construction of hydroelectric power stations to use water from the springs; and the use of biotic resources without a management plan and control, such as illegal hunting and extensive livestock of ungulates. Ramsar site no. 1794. Most recent RIS information: 2008.

Oasis Sierra de La Giganta. 02/02/08; Baja California Sur; 41,181 ha; 25°51’N 111°23’W. A site characterized by sheer slopes on the eastern side of Sierra de la Giganta, with small coastal alluvial plains. On the coast, small clusters of mangroves Avicennia germinans, Laguncularia racemosa and Rhizophora mangle are registered. The pools support a population of the species Ovis canadensis, which is under special protection. There are endemic flora species including the Prosopis palmeri and fauna species such as Gambelia copeii, endemic to the Peninsula. The coastal area of this site belongs to the zone of marine restricted use Protected Natural Area “Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto”. Tourism, forestry, agriculture and water extraction for urban consumption are amongst the main land uses of this site. Ramsar site no. 1793. Most recent RIS information: 2008.

Playa Maruata. 02/02/08; Michoacán; 80 ha; 18º16’N 103º21’W. Área Natural Protegida. A marine-costal wetland in the western central region of Mexico that includes three beaches. This beach is of great importance as a nesting site for three marine turtles: the Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), the Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) and the Green Turtle (Chelonia agassizii), all of them under different categories of protection (IUCN, the national legislation, and CITES Appendix I). 20% of the total population of Chelonia agassizii’s reproductive population nests in Playa de Maruata, which makes them vulnerable to predation. The site is a Natural Protected Area dedicated to conservation activities for marine turtles. Ramsar site no. 1795. Most recent RIS information: 2008.

Sistema de Represas y Corredores biológicos de la Cuenca Hidrográfica del Río de Necaxa. 02/02/08; Hidalgo, Puebla; 1,541 ha; 20º10’N 098º04’W. Natural Resources Protection Area. A site in central Mexico that is formed by five dams that are part of the Necaxa River Basin. This system acts as a corridor for aquatic and semiaquatic waterfowl such as Casmerodius albus, Egretta thula, Egretta caerulea, Phalacrocorax olivaceus, Ceryle torquita, Chloroceryle americana, among others. It also supports endangered species such as Cyathea mexicana and Litobathes (Rana) pueblae. The main human uses consist of water storage for electric energy production, and at a minor scale forestry activities are practiced around the dams. The site is contained in the Natural Resources Protection Area “Zona Protectora Forestal Vedada Cuenca Hidrográfica del Río Necaxa”. Ramsar site no. 1796. Most recent RIS information: 2008.

Sistema Lagunar Agiabampo – Bacrehuis – Río Fuerte Antiguo. 02/02/08; Sonora; 90,804 ha; 26°10´N 109°14´W. An estuarine system in the coastal area with direct communication with the Gulf of California. It consists of five bodies of water, almost all linked to one another, sharing a single opening to the Gulf of California, as well as sharing two bays and many estuaries. In the water bodies there is no important freshwater supply except for the Agiabampo–Bacorehuis lagoon, which is important because it is surrounded, as are the estuaries, by Red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), Black mangrove (Aviciennia germinans), White mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa) and Buttonwood mangrove (Conocarpus erectus). Agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture and tourism are economic activities that are practiced in the area and can have negative impacts on the site, posing a threat to the biodiversity of the area. The site is located in the migratory path of various species of birds, providing them food and protection; it is also an area of refuge, feeding and growth for aquatic species such as crustaceans, fish, mollusks and marine mammals. The resident and migratory birds are represented by 70 species, of which nine are endangered. Ramsar site no. 1797. Most recent RIS information: 2008.

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