Mexico reaches 129 Ramsar Sites

Mexico reaches 129 Ramsar Sites

19 October 2011

The paperwork has been completed for the designation by the government of Mexico of a further six Wetlands of International Importance, bringing that country's total area of a wide array of wetland types under the Ramsar umbrella to 8,376,271 hectares in 129 sites. The Ramsar Americas team has prepared summaries of the new designations based on the accompanying Ramsar Information Sheets.

Baño de San Ignacio.02/02/09; Nuevo Léon; 4,225 ha; 24°52'00"N 099°20'41"W. The protected area includes a hydrothermal sulphurous spring that serves as habitat for five endemic species of fish: Astyanax mexicanus, Cyprinodon nv. sp, Fundulus ca. grandis, Poecilia ca. formosa and Cichlastoma nv. sp. In addition, the area supports a great diversity of waterfowl, such as Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis), Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata), Canada Goose (Branta canadensis), White-fronted goose (Anser albifrons), Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), Mottled Duck (Anas fluvigula), and pintail (Anas acuta), among others. Unregulated tourist activities are a source of contamination and a major threat to the site. Another threat in the region is the coypu (Myocastor coypus Molina), which is an introduced rodent native to South America. The site was declared an Area Subject to Ecological Conservation in 2000. Ramsar Site no. 1981. Most recent RIS information: 2011.

Estero El Soldado. 02/02/11; Sonora; 350 ha; 27°57'48"N 110°58'33"W. Despite its small size the estuary contains high biodiversity, which has earned the title of "unique among the estuaries of the Sea of Cortez." It is representative of a natural coastal wetland of the Mexican Pacific Ocean and is considered the healthiest and most flourishing of its distribution in the northern Gulf of California. Three species of mangrove occur, the Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans), the Red Mangrove (Rizophora mangle), and the White Mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa). There is an initial registration of 408 species: 121 invertebrates, 80 fish, 75 birds, 11 reptiles, 9 amphibians, 9 mammals, and 103 plants. The estuary contributes to flood control when there are meteorological events such as cyclones and storms that bring large amounts of water. The uses of the estuary include the extraction and consumption of fishery resources as well as research and education activities. The site is an Area Subject to Ecological Conservation area since 2006. Ramsar Site no. 1982. Most recent RIS information: 2011.

Humedales de Bahía de San Jorge. 02/02/10; Sonora; 12,198 ha; 31°06'00"N 113°04'11"W. Includes eight types of habitats that connect the terrestrial system with one of the most productive marine systems in the world, the Gulf of California, and are also part of an extremely arid desert ecosystem. It supports a great diversity of flora and fauna adapted to extreme conditions of the region, such as halophytic plants, four endemic species of fish (Gillichthys seta, Anchoa mundeoloides, Colpichthys regis and Leuresthes sardina) and two endemic plant species (Distichlis palmeri and Suaeda puertopenascoa). The site is part of the Pacific Flyway and serves as a nesting site for birds such as Wilson's Plover (Charadrius wilsonia), the Least Tern (Sternula antillarum browni), the American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) and the Large-billed Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis rostratus). The channels and marshes of the site serve as refuge and feeding areas for larval and juvenile stages of fish and invertebrates. The site also holds a resident population of Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiop truncatus). The wetlands are important for mitigation of floods and prevention of coastal erosion. Among the major land uses are aquaculture and fishing. Ramsar Site no. 1983. Most recent RIS information: 2011.

Humedales de Yavaros-Moroncarit. 02/02/10; Sonora; 13,627 ha; 26º43'39"N 109º31'00"W. A lagoon complex considered to be a critical habitat for a variety of species, some of them under legal protection in Mexico, such as the Yellow-footed gull (Larus livens), the Peregine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), and Black-Bellied Brent Goose (Branta bernicla nigricans). There are also 66 species of birds that are on the lists of priority species for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) and the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NBCA). Each year over 50,000 individuals of shorebirds visit the marshes, mud flats and mangroves of the Moroncarit lagoon, and it is also an important wintering site for 47,000 ducks, geese and other waterfowl. Due to its high biodiversity and versatility in the use of natural resources, the southern coast of Sonora is a marine priority area of Mexico. The Gray Whale (Eschrichtius robustus) has been breeding here since 1988, and other marine mammals recorded are the Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) and the Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus). Among the adverse factors affecting the site are the uncontrolled fishing and tourism activities. The most common land uses within the site include agriculture and ranching. Ramsar Site no. 1984. Most recent RIS information: 2011.

Laguna de Cuyutlán vasos III y IV. 02/02/11; Colima; 4,051 ha; 18º58'09"N 104º06'42"W. This lagoon represents 90% of wetlands in the state of Colima, is the fourth largest coastal wetland in the country, and is characterized by a diversity of flora and wildlife. The mangrove community, represented by White Mangrove (Laguncularia recemosa), Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) and Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans), is an important habitat for a variety of species of resident wildlife, migratory birds, fish and invertebrates that use the lagoon for feeding, resting, reproduction and/or breeding. The site also supports species under special protection, as well as endemic species such as the Lilac Crowned Amazon Parrot (Amazona finschi), the Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus), the Banana Bat (Musonycteris harrisoni), and the Mexican Mud Turtle (Kinosternon integrum), among others. The main uses of the lagoon include the use of fishery resources and extraction of salt, the latter being a factor that negatively affects the site along with agriculture. Ramsar Site no. 1985. Most recent RIS information: 2011.

Presa de Atlangatepec. 02/02/09; Tlaxcala; 1,200 ha; 19°33'39"N 098°10'49"W. This dam has a great diversity of flora and fauna, with 87 registered species of birds associated with wetlands. During the winter the species diversity increases by thousands of ducks and other waterfowl species such as Pintail (Anas acuta), Gadwall (Anas strepera), American Wigeon (Anas americana), the Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata), the Mexican Duck (Anas diazi), the Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors), among others. The site is also home to species listed nationally as threatened, such as the Mexican Duck (Anas diazi, endemic to Mexico), the American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) and the Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum). The site is important for groundwater recharge and flood control, and it also retains, retrieves, and removes excess nutrients and pollutants. Adverse factors include changes in land use by opening land for agriculture and livestock, leading to a process of soil degradation due to mismanagement. The main land use is fishing. Ramsar Site no. 1986. Most recent RIS information: 2011.