Oct 1, 2020

New species found in the Sierra Gorda, once again!

With the arrival of the rainy season, we were able to stop worrying about forest fires and focus our efforts on monitoring and protecting the reserves.  We are working on the maintenance of our fences in the most distant parts of the reserve and interacting with our neighboring landowners.  After an initial shaky start to the rainy season, this September brought abundant rain, ending the dry spell that persisted in 2018 and 2019.  The rivers and streams and waterfalls are following which means fauna in the various reserves have ample access to water.  Vegetation is also recuperating from the long drought.  This is especially evident in the area affected by the great fire of 2019, of the Hoya Verde reserve where we are seeing abundant regeneration of oaks and pines.

New growth can also represent additional combustible material in the next fire season (in 2021) which is why we are planning and coordinating to have a strong unified front with the same members of the firefighting brigade this coming year.  We project having them operational during the 4 most critical months of the dry season.

Fortunately, despite the pandemic, the monitoring and the protection of the reserves have not been interrupted.  This is because in many cases the monitoring is undertaken by individuals, alone, or by a group of park rangers, who can easily maintain a safe distance from one another.

Our hidden cameras caught captures of pumas, pacas, brocket deer, and collared peccary since our last report when we sent images caught on tape of a black bear and a jaguar.

We have the honor of announcing that in one of the reserves we found a healthy and robust population of two species new to science, the cactus Mammillaria rzewdowskiana (with a highly restricted distribution), a true daughter of our limestone mountains, and a new agave, Agave muxii.  It never ceases to amaze us year after year, we keep finding new species in the Sierra Gorda.  We see clearly that our reserves are islands of biodiversity of the highest value.  That we have an enormous responsibility to protect them at all costs.  In the Sierra Gorda, we say NO to the massive wave of extinction that is decimating life on our planet.  We thank you on behalf of this vast voiceless biodiverse community for your support and generosity. 

Aug 21, 2020

Support Young Environmental Leaders in Mexico

First of all we´d like to thank our supporters for voting for our project during the 2020 Photo Contest campaign by GlobalGiving. 

A special thanks to those who signed up to recieve these reports, tripling the impact of your vote. 

Since March 18th schools in our state of Querétaro have been closed.  As a result we have been preparing an online curriculum for teachers to teach their students about environment in an online format.

We have also been sharing some didactic materials online, through our social media channels, fr parents to use with their students at home. 

In order to continue our work on the campaign to minimze solid waste in the Sierra Gorda, we have been in contact with officials and vendors from the five municipalities (Jalpan de Sierra, Landa de Matamors, Pinal de Amoles, Peñamiller, and Arroyo Seco).  We have recommended that vendors use reusable materials for packaging rather than one time use disposable ones where possible. 

In the different markets and commercial centers we have hung signs about not using single use plastic bags, proper trash disposal, separating trash from recycling and organic materials, and how to start your own compost. 

We distributed reusable bags to merchants so they can spread awareness of the campaign to their customers. 

Jun 3, 2020

Protecting Wild Cat Habitat with Footage from our Wildlife Cameras!

At this latitude, spring is the worst and most difficult time of year as it is the dry season.  Climate change effects are evident, like higher than average temperatures, bringing with them a severe delay in rains and consequently a higher risk of forest fires.  A year ago, under similar conditions, there was a large fire in Valle Verde that for almost a month was unstoppable.  Springtime for us can be a scary time. 

For that reason, GESG has been managing and leading inter-institutional work and coordination with all three levels of government so that we are much better prepared than we were last year.  Through a partnership with World Land Trust, for the first time, we have our own brigade to help prevent and fight forest fires.  They are based in Valle Verde and made up of 10 people who are properly-equipped.  They´re all from the region and have previous experience in fire management.  They´ve been tasked with clearing trails and making fire breaks that would help in the case that they should be necessary.  They have repaired an observation tower which gives us an excellent lookout point to monitor much of the area, in addition, they have patrol routes and interact regularly with other property owners in the area.  The only pending item is a course in fire management given by CONAFOR, which has been delayed due to the health contingency of COVID-19.

This brigade can be reinforced, if necessary, with 7 additional members from our team at GESG.   This year, they´ve participated in putting out two fires to date (La Cercada and Los Galvanes Hill).  In addition, in the region, we can count on the Federal Government which has 3 brigades (CONANP, CONAFOR) and the State Government of Queretaro (SEDEA) and the Directorates of Civil Protection of City Councils and Honorable Volunteer Fire Brigades in the region and the state.  Even though the risk is always latent, we are without a doubt better prepared to combat fires in the region and better able to protect the reserves. 

On the other hand, we had an extraordinary capture on our wildlife camera, for the third time we caught a black bear on tape.  This is only the third such registry of this endangered species in Central Mexico in the last 3 years.  In footage from the same camera, we also saw a jaguar and puma.  For there to be three predators in the same area coexisting, speaks to the health of the forests in this zone.  It is an honor for us to share with you this event:



Apart from that, our park rangers have had a presence in all of the reserves with their rounds and reinforcing fences.  We´re in the process of buying another property to add to the Cerro Prieto reserve an additional 100 hectares, with the support of World Land Trust.  WLT partnered with the famous Finnish band, Nightwish, to show their support for biodiversity conservation in the Sierra Gorda mountains through this spectacular video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VshpPBBehxE


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