Apr 15, 2021

Supporting teachers adapting to online classes

"Starting a forest fire is a Federal crime."
"Starting a forest fire is a Federal crime."

During the months of January, February and March we held 12 virtual meetings with 626 teachers from early education, elementary, middle, high school and higher education as well as with some young students.  The team at Grupo Ecológico gave a presentation called, “Building awareness about the climate emergency: A local call to action.” It encompasses the following themes: State of the Planet, Biodiversity, Forest Ecosystem Services, “Zero Waste” Campaign and Environmental Awareness.

The participating teachers were from Jalpan de Serra, Landa de Matarmoros, Arroyo Seco, Pinal de Amoles and the Huasteca Potosí.  The students participated from Rioverde, S.L.P, Bahía de Kino, Sonora, and we had a session with the Human Rights Ombudsman in Querétaro.  The talks covered the richness of the biodiversity of the Sierra Gorda, ecosystem services and a local call to action. 

In March, we invited the vendors in the Municipal Mercado of Jalpan de Serra to become green businesses and to stop the practice of selling their products in plastic bags, plastic wrap, and other single use materials like aluminum foil.  We gave the participants a sign that says “This Business is Green” inviting their clients to join the Zero Waste Campaign, and bring their reusable bags to market.   

We also held 52 community meetings, with another 629 participants.  We respected the sanitary measures of maintaining a safe distance and wearing face masks.  We presented on the campaigns to reduce solid waste and forest fires.  We passed through the different municipalities of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, providing information over a loudspeaker, we gave out brochures promoting the forest fire prevention campaign, we hung signs with messages about preventing forest fires in Carrizal de los Sánchez in Jalpan de Serra, in Neblinas, el Lobo, Otates in Landa de Matamoros and Sauz de Guadalupe in Pinal de Amoles.

In order to emphasize and spread awareness about the caring for our ecosystems, we painted two murals in public areas with the themes- take care of the planet and separating solid waste.

We painted two murals with the words, “Starting a forest fire is a Federal crime.”

We visited 243 businesses to continue spreading the word about the minimization of solid waste campaign.

We gave vendors, 100 flyers with the message “Be part of the solution” and 288 climate action magazines. 

Jan 29, 2021

From the brink of Extinction to Abundant Little Ones

The sixth wave of mass extinction is fast and voracious.  However, in December we carried out our first field survey, in one of our reserves, of an endemic species of magnolia recently discovered in 2015 (Magnolia rzedowskiana). This species is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List as Endangered (https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/82782448/82783726).

There is a lack of detailed information about this magnolia species. Our population survey found that there are approximately 1,662 individuals in the reserve.  It also allows us to see how the population structure has changed and will change over time.

When the reserve was newly created, in 1996, the old cloud forest was under heavy anthropologic threats from an authorized program of forest management (legal logging), as well as illegal logging, and foraging by livestock. These activities left the area in severely degradated state. There was no understory and therefore no natural regeneration of the existing species (oaks, cedars, and of course the magnolias).  So, the first priority was to build fences that would keep the neighbors´ livestock out and protect the few magnolias that had survived decades of degradation.  And while a change was evident from the beginning, it was not documented in any way. Now the numbers speak for themselves.

Our team found that approximately 100 “relic” specimens, with diameters of 20 cm or greater have served as ´seed trees,´ giving way to a 1108% rate of natural regeneration.  The majority of the trees measured have heights of 1, 2 and 3 meters and diameters less than 4 cm.  These are the saplings that have grown thanks to effective and timely conservation in the field that has brought a species back from the brink of extinction.

Our work continues…

In order to avoid further reduction in this and the Magnolia pedrazae populations, and prevent the extinction of these species, we have more work to do.  In the future we will conduct a census wherein each individual tree will be georeferenced to allow for the monitoring of their individual growth and health. We will also survey populations of  Magnolia pedrazae, which was also recently scientifically described, and is in danger of extinction, https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/67513587/67513803.

In our current times, when we are increasingly feeling severe shocks from our human caused climate disruption, this is tremendously good news.  We have shown evidence of the effectiveness of our work in the field, which will help us to secure additional areas for biodiversity conservation.  In the Sierra Gorda, we say NO to extinction. 

Dec 21, 2020

2020 Environmental Education at home

The environmental educational program carried out 26 Earth Festivals during the month of February and in the first days of March and held community meetings to engage the community in conserving our green patrimony.  We had planned to hold reforestation activities in school yards and with communities this year, but because of the COVD-19 with schools closed, we only performed reforestation activities with communities. 

Thanks to our partners Earth Day Network, we were able to deliver 30,000 trees to 58 communities.  The trees delivered included; White Cedar, Red Cedar, Ash, Jacaranda, White leadtree, Pink poui, Chinaberry Tree, Privet, Mexican fan palm, Miniature date palm, Bottle palm.

We have continued to do outreach to children and young people even though schools are closed, by providing materials to teachers, who send weekly homework packets home with parents.  These have included posters featuring pollinators and biodiversity coloring books with the flora and fauna of the Sierra Gorda.

We have also painted eight murals related to preventing forest fires, saving water, caring for birds and biodiversity, run weekly radio programs, and published to social media in order to raise awareness of how privileged the 100,000 of us are to live here, in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve.  And the need to respect this natural protected area, and our personal responsibility to prevent forest fires. 

Our objective is to make communities aware of our shared natural wealth and all of the services green areas provide; counteracting global warming, producing food, providing bird habitat, improving water capture and creating microclimates.

We are grateful to Earth Day Network for their support and to you all for helping us reach communities during this unprecedented year.  

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