Five new Ramsar Sites for Mexico


The government of Mexico is continuing its grand tradition of celebrating World Wetlands Day every year with the designation of new Wetlands of International Importance, and the paperwork has recently been completed for five additional new sites. Mexico now has 138 Ramsar Sites, covering a surface area of 8,826,429 hectares. Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for the Americas, Ms Nury Furlan, has prepared the following summary descriptions of the new sites for the Annotated Ramsar List, and the complete data submitted in the Ramsar Information Sheets and maps will be available soon on Wetlands International's Ramsar Sites Information Service.

Anillo de Cenotes. 02/02/09; Yucatán; 891 ha; 20º43'21"N 089º19'23"W. A complex of 99 cenotes (or sinkholes) that cover approximately 5 km wide with a radius of 90 km in a zone of high permeability. Anillo de Cenotes ("ring of cenotes") is a unique water system in Mexico and the world and is the product of a large meteor impact 65 million years ago, the Chicxulub Crater, which fractured the surface layers of the Earth's crust and led to the ring alignment of the aquifer outcrops. It forms a cavernous complex network which acts as a weir and pipeline of large bodies of water. These cenotes serve as resting grounds for waterfowl during their migration to the South and hold endemic species of reptiles, such as the Yucatan Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina yucatana), amphibians like the Yucatan Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa yucatana), and birds such as the Ridgway's Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx ridgwayi), the Yucatan Jay (Cyanocorax yucatanicus), and the Black Catbird (Melanoptila glabirostris). The cenotes are also home to a number of endangered or threatened species, such as the fish species Ogilbia pearsei, Ophisternon infernale, and Poecilia velifera. Among the factors adversely affecting the site are the accidental introduction of exotic species, environmental changes due to tourism, and the extraction of large volumes of water for tourist resorts. Ramsar Site no. 2043. Most recent RIS information: 2012.

Ecosistema Ajos-Bavispe, zona de influencia Cuenca Río San Pedro. 02/02/10; Sonora; 182,623 ha, 31°10'30"N 110°11'17"W. The site covers the principal course of San Pedro River in northern Mexico and 10 swamps in its surroundings. It is representative of the rivers, streams and swamps of the region and the only climax wetlands of the Chihuahua's Desert and the Sierra Madre Occidental. The system has a major hydrological influence in this semi-arid zone by regulating the impact of droughts. It works as a wildlife corridor, providing shelter, food and resting zone for aquatic birds. As well as hosting endemic species like Agosia chrysogaster and Gila intermedia, the site also works as a wildlife corridor for the American Bear (Ursus americanus). It supports a number of species IUCN red-listed such as Rana chiricahuensis, Ambystoma tigrinum, and Empidonax traillii. Threats include inappropriate livestock practices, the overexploitation of aquifers, and pollution, especially in the urban area of Cananea. The planning and management of the basin is being consolidated, and it is led by The Nature Conservancy, Naturalia, and BIDA, A.C. Ramsar Site no. 2044. Most recent RIS information: 2012.

Humedales de Montaña María Eugenia. 02/02/12; Chiapas; 86 ha, 16°43'N 092°37'W. Área Natural Protegida. A high altitude wetland (2,120m asl), important for its major role in the prevention and control of flooding. As an urban wetland, it is important for the recharge of aquifers to supply water to San Cristobal de las Casas. The site supports large populations of fish, birds, and amphibians, of which 5 have been identified as endemic or under a protection category, according to the IUCN Red list: the endemic fish Profundulus hildebrandi and Ergaticus versicolor, both in danger of extinction, and critically endangered Plectrohyla pycnochila, Abronia lythrochila, and Carduelis atriceps. The site is also an important resting place for migratory birds, and a refuge for local species. It is critical for the survival of populations of resident species, e.g, Micropterus salmoides, Lithobates brownorum, and Tamnophis proximus. Among negative factors are the constant increase of the population and the unorganized spread of housing, which have caused the area to diminish in size and led to deforestation. Since 2006, there is a recreational area designed for tourism and environmental education. A promising management programme has been approved. Ramsar Site no. 2045. Most recent RIS information: 2012.

Laguna de Santiaguillo. 02/02/12; Durango; 24,016 ha; 24°50'15"N 104°51'35"W. Comprises two small lakes, Laguna Superior, which is permanent, and Laguna Inferior, intermittent. Located along one of the most important routes for birds that nest in Alaska and Canada, the site has become the most important site for aquatic bird hibernation in Durango, and this semi-desert region, it has a major hydrological influence of climate regulation. It provides habitat to a variety of IUCN Red-Listed mammals, such as Choeronyteris mexicana, Leptonycteris curasoae, Leptonycteris nivalis, and the badger Taxidea taxus. It also supports 31 species of endemic herpetofauna, and 292 bird species have been reported, of which 29 are considered to be endangered. The site is considered one of the 30 Most Important Wetlands in North America, and is listed as an Important Area for Bird Conservation by Mexican authorities. Together with groundwater over-extraction and water pollution, threats include management problems and drought conditions of the system. Ramsar Site no. 2046. Most recent RIS information: 2012.

Río San Pedro-Meoqui. 02/02/12; Chihuahua; 374 ha; 28°17'00"N 105°26'40"W. The site is a representative wetland of the Chihuahua desert, one of the richest and most diverse ecoregions in the world. It has a major hydrological influence on the climate regulation of the region, and as one of the few hydrological sources, most of the agricultural irrigation depends on it, especially during the long drought periods in the north of Mexico. Some bird populations also depend on the river during their migratory route. During winter, the site hosts large groups of American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) and Great Egret (Ardea alba). Pollution and degradation of the river have been adversely affecting the site's ecological character, but the construction of a water treatment plant (by the end of 2012) and the environmental flow determination have been planned. Ramsar Site no. 2047. Most recent RIS information: 2012.

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