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Mesoamerican Biological Corridor – A Conservation Solution To Combat Biodiversity Loss

December 23, 2012

Every time we read the newspaper, watch some nature documentary or go through some blog we come across the stories of deforestation and extinction crisis looming across the planet. But are there any solutions to conserve biodiversity from extinction, mitigate impacts of climate change and save ecosystems from imminent destruction? I believe there is and they are called “Conservation Corridors” that are being created right across the Planet, in US-Canada the “Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative” — Y2Y, in Australia the “Great Eastern Ranges Corridor” and in Europe the “European Green Belt Initiative”.

What Are Conservation corridor:

Conservation corridor by definition is any patch of habitat whose main function is to connect isolated patches of suitable habitat that would otherwise be inaccessible to some or all species. Use of conservation corridors between protected areas offers a way of improving
connections between habitats. Corridors provide land or water pathways that link
protected areas with one another, allow plants and animals to disperse and migrate, and
adapt to the pressures of changing climate and habitat conditions. While protected areas have
a role to play in maintaining biodiversity, there is widespread recognition that protected
areas are inadequate in themselves for securing biodiversity for the long term. Many
species (especially wide-ranging ones) are confined to isolated areas too small to allow
long term survival of species from predation, habitat fragmentation and climate change.

Establishing Ecological Connectivity to Solve the Extinction Crisis:

Connectivity is a measure of how easy it is for individuals to move between patches of suitable habitat. Corridors are a means to increase connectivity by providing suitable habitat between otherwise isolated patches, which leads to increase genetic diversity between population and helps saves species from going extinct. Establishing “Ecological Connectivity” is the driving force behind the concept of corridors in which these links will preserve necessary processes such as dispersal, migration, and genetic flow, thus ultimately contributing to biodiversity conservation.

Why Conservation Corridors are Important:

As a broad vision, the concept of a “Conservation Corridors” is an important tool in motivating individuals, groups and communities to participate in the on-ground delivery of conservation works. The attraction of corridor initiatives is the assumption that a relatively small investment in connectivity management will yield a large conservation pay-off. Combining science and stewardship, we must seek to ensure that maintaining and restoring ecosystem integrity required for landscape-scale conservation. This can be achieved through systems of core protected areas that are functionally linked and buffered in ways that maintain ecosystem processes and allow species to survive and move, thus ensuring that populations are viable and that ecosystems and people are able to adapt to land transformation and climate change. This proactive, holistic, and long-term approach is important for conservation of biodiversity, protection of ecosystem services, promoting sustainable development and fostering international peace by breaking political and socio-economic barriers.

 

Mesoamerican Biodiversity Hotspot:

482_mesoamerica_map

Mesoamerican Biodiversity Hotspot encompasses all subtropical and tropical ecosystems from the five southern states of Mexico and the Central American countries of Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, the Mesoamerican region covers 768,990 square kilometers.opical ecosystems from the five southern states of Mexico and the Central American countries of Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, the Mesoamerican region covers 768,990 square kilometers. Its natural ecosystems range from coral reefs and lowland rainforests to pine savannas, semi-arid woodlands, grasslands, and high mountain forests, constituting about 22 distinct “ecoregions” according to biogeographers.

The biodiversity of Mesoamerica represents the confluence of flora and fauna from two biogeographic regions, the Nearctic of North America and the Neotropical of South and Central America and the Caribbean. Although the region contains only 0.5 percent of the world’s land surface, because of the variety of its ecosystems and its location, which links the Americas’ northern and southern biotas, Mesoamerica is home to a disproportionate share—about 7 percent—of the planet’s biological diversity.

For example,Panama, has 929 species of birds — more than Canada and the United States combined. Belize, a tiny country is home to more than 150 species of mammals, 540 species of birds, and 152 species of amphibians and reptiles. Mexico possesses the world’s largest variety of reptiles (717) and 4,000 species of plants used for medicinal purposes. In Guatemala’s high central mountains, nearly 70 percent of the vascular plants are endemic.

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which runs for 1,600 kilometers along the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, is the world’s second largest coral reef system, while the region contains 8 percent of the world’s mangrove forests. Mesoamerica is also considered to be one of the world’s most important centers of origin for agricultural crops: its indigenous peoples bred maize, squash, various beans, and chili peppers from wild species endemic to the region.

Mesoamerica has a total of about 17,000 species of vascular plants, nearly 3,000 of which are endemic (17 percent). Several Plant genera including Pinus, Abies, Juniperus, Cupressus, and Taxus, Swietenia, Dalbergia, Cedrela, Zamia, orchids and Cacti species are found many of which are endemic and endangered are found within the hotspot.

resplendent quetzal

resplendent quetzal

The forests of Mesoamerica are home to nearly 1,120 bird species, including more than 200 species restricted to the region. The best known species from this region and conservation symbols for their cloud forest habitats are the resplendent quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno), whose brilliant green and crimson plumage is the national emblem of Guatemala, and the horned guan (Oreophasis derbianus, EN), a large bird – sole representative of its genus – with a distinctive red horn protruding from the top of its head. Both of these endemic species are threatened by habitat destruction. The forests of Mesoamerica, the third largest in any of the hotspots, also provide critical winter habitat and stop-over points for about 225 species of migratory birds.

jaguar

jaguar

Mesoamerica holds roughly 440 mammalian species, and more than 65 of these are endemic. Some of the most visible symbols of mammal diversity in Mesoamerica are its monkeys, including the Central American spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) and Mexican black howler monkey (Alouatta pigra, EN), which produce impressive roars that can be heard for miles, and Central American squirrel monkey (Saimiri oerstedii, EN). Two other large mammals, the Baird’s tapir (Tapirus bairdii, EN) and the jaguar (Panthera onca) are both important flagships for the regions forests.

Mesoamerica has very high reptile and amphibian diversity and endemism. The area is the most diverse hotspot for reptiles, with more than 690 species found here, and nearly 240 (35 percent) endemic. Endemic reptile found in many of the same rivers is Morelet’s crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii). There are also many important nesting beaches for marine turtles, including Tortuguero, Costa Rica —one of the most important nesting beaches for green turtles (Chelonia mydas, EN) in the Western Hemisphere.

Amphibian diversity and endemism also reach exceptional levels in Mesoamerica, with more than 550 species, over 350 of which are endemic. Mesoamerica is the hotspot of the worldwide phenomenon of declining amphibian populations. In total, more then half of all amphibians found here are threatened with extinction like the Panamian Golden Frog.

Freshwater fishes are an important component of Mesoamerica’s vertebrate diversity. The hotspot is home to more than 500 fish species, nearly 350 of which are endemic.Each nation of the Mesoamerican hotspot must be guardians their incredible treasure trove of biodiversity which has immense environmental, socio-economic and aesthetics value that cannot be underestimated.

Why Mesoamerican Biological Corridor Is Important:

MS15-E-1

 

The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (MBC) is a concept of sustainable development that unites goals of conservation with sustainable development initiatives of local peoples throughout the region. Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (MBC) has a political agenda, based on a vision of the common good of the various countries involved in the initiative it is a large habitat corridor connecting several national parks, national and private nature refuges and private wild lands. It was established to protect Central America’s immense bio-diversity from habitat loss and fragmentation, while improving the connectivity of the landscape and ecosystems to foster and enhance biological diversity while still promoting sustainable production to improve the quality of life of local human populations who utilize, manage and conserve biodiversity.

Importance of MBC is now recognized by the governments and people of this region as the best and sustainable way in bringing together the countries of Mesoamerica to save biodiversity, protect critical ecosystem services, promote peaceful cooperation and fostering regional economic growth and integration. Mesoamerica  exhibits some of the highest deforestation rates in the world. Other direct threats to the region’s natural assets include illegal logging and occupation of land, uncontrolled tourism, oil drilling and pipelines, and unsustainable agricultural practices

Mesoamerica or also know as Central America is a Biodiversity hotspot that home to approximately 24,000 species of flora, many of which are endemic. As regards wildlife, Central America is rich in terms of vertebrates and has a wealth of invertebrates, all of which have not yet been identified. Such figures for endemism and biodiversity richness ranks Mesoamerican Hotspot 10th on the global list of most biologically diverse regions. But the region faces grave environmental problems such as its population currently stands at more than 30 million, with population growth exceeding 2 percent per annum.

Conservation efforts in Mesoamerica are unique for the emphasis they place on regional connectivity through the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor and on biodiversity conservation in managed landscapes. Together they protect nearly 11 percent of Mesoamerica’s land area. Building on this foundation, projects in the buffer zones, corridors and multiple-use areas encourage land users to test and adopt management practices that are both biodiversity-friendly and economically viable, using incentives such as payments for ecosystem services. Under this approach, communities and their governments develop strategies for land and water use that encompass entire ecosystems or bioregions, aiming to protect and restore them so they can simultaneously conserve biodiversity and sustain farming, forestry, fisheries, and other human uses.

The emphasis on conservation in agricultural systems has fostered innovations in payment for ecosystem services, and provides novel insights on the functional role that biodiversity plays in the provisioning of ecosystem services. The increasing rate of economic development in the region and the advent of new payment for ecosystem service schemes have provided new opportunities for forest regeneration and restoration, thus favoring both biodiversity protection and sustainable land and resource use while ensuring the long term conservation of the world’s most biologically rich hotspot.

Many Species featured in “natureology101″ blog’s “Species of the Day” from previous week are species protected within or found near the immediate vicinity of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.

1-      Species of the Day – Jaguar (Panthera onca)

https://natureology101.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/species-of-the-day-jaguar-panthera-onca/

 

2-      Species of the Day – Horned Guan (Oreophasis derbianus)

https://natureology101.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/species-of-the-day-horned-guan-oreophasis-derbianus/

 

3-      Species of the Day – Morelet’s crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii)

https://natureology101.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/species-of-the-day-morelets-crocodile-crocodylus-moreletii/

 

 

4-      Species of the Day – Panamanian Golden Frog (Atelopus zeteki)

https://natureology101.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/species-of-the-day-panamanian-golden-frog-atelopus-zeteki/

 

 

5-      Species of the Day – Goodeid (Ameca splendens) https://natureology101.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/species-of-the-day-goodeid-ameca-splendens/

 

 

6-      Species of the Day – Zoe Waterfall damsel (Paraphlebia zoe) https://natureology101.wordpress.com/2012/12/22/species-of-the-day-zoe-waterfall-damsel-paraphlebia-zoe/

 

 

7-      Species of the Day – Zamia purpurea

https://natureology101.wordpress.com/2012/12/23/species-of-the-day-zamia-purpurea/

 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 25, 2013 7:51 am

    You know, when someone asked the inspiring Frost if he views himself as a teacher,
    he was quoted saying: I’m not really a teacher, I am an awakener.

    I feel this blog works precisely the same because it awakens me,
    and makes my mind work.

    Like

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