Scientific Advancement and Development México Projects
Conservation in the 21st century includes several key components for its sustainable success: a “big picture” perspective of biodiversity, interdisciplinary collaboration, and a long-term commitment to field research. Further, given that wildlife and ecological processes are usually not confined to political borders, another component of modern-day conservation is international partnerships focused on a common mission.
Straddling the Tropic of Cancer, México is a world leader in terms of its biodiversity. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has designated México and 16 other nations as “megadiverse,” those that are home to a majority of living species on Earth. With its more than 200,000 species and its multitude of ecosystems (from urban parks and deserts to rainforests and coral reefs), México represents an important international region in which BRI is expanding its scientific efforts.
A number of key partnering organizations in México have emerged recently to help BRI fulfill its global objectives:
- National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP)
- National Institute of Ecology (INE)
- Other federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit groups
|BRI’s director of scientific advancement and development, Dr. H. Bruce Rinker (far right), meets in August 2011 with CONANP’s commissioner Luis Fueyo MacDonald in México City to discuss a formal agreement with BRI; Manolo Ruiz (far left), co-founder of Sustenta.com, introduced Rinker and Fueyo to begin the process
of formal collaboration. Photo © CONANP
|Dr. H. Bruce Rinker (far right) receives CONANP’s “carta de intención” in February 2012 from executive Rocio Torres Moguel (middle); Santiago Lobeira (far left), co-founder of Sustenta.com and a member of BRI’s international advisory, played a major role in the procurement of the letter. Photo © CONANP|
Many of these partners have established formal agreements or relationships with BRI to ensure a continuity of success for their work shoulder-to-shoulder on behalf of conservation without borders. These agreements represent the foundation for BRI’s research efforts and partnerships in México.
México’s renowned Yucatan Peninsula is of particular interest to BRI’s scientific studies for a number of reasons:
- BRI’s Tropical Program has proposed a comprehensive study of climate change modeling and heavy-metals contamination for the region, given its natural precipitation gradient from north to south of arid to very wet conditions.
- BRI is the leading organization for a tri-national synthesis of mercury cycling and biomagnification throughout western North America; remote regions of México including the Yucatán Peninsula will be monitored and evaluated.
- BRI’s focus on ecological stressors includes physical and chemical contaminants such as plastics pollution. Due to its geographic location and strong regional currents, the eastern coastline of the Yucatán Peninsula is impacted daily by plastic debris from all over the world, deposited by the tons in its fragile mangrove forests, coral reefs, and sandy shores. What are the ecological impacts of such pollution on wildlife and ecosystems? What are viable solutions to this international problem? What roles can decision makers and policy crafters play in long-term approaches to plastics pollution?
Limpia Mahahual Campaign 2012
“During that long afternoon I had ample time to reflect on the fixedness of the coast and the movement of the sea, which carried along with it objects torn away from distant shores. The sea that had brought the Spaniards in its drift and with its winds, now bore, as it must always have done, debris from far-off lands…What had the ancient Mayas found on this same beach many years ago? Possibly they encountered Roman objects and many other signs of Africa and the Old World.”Michel Peissel
The Lost World of Quintana Roo, 1963
In 2012, BRI participated as a sponsor and volunteer organization for the 3rd annual Limpia Mahahual campaign to help rid these beautiful beaches of tons of garbage. The highly publicized event, organized by Sustenta.com, a “green” marketing and communications company headquartered in México City, became an international effort with more than 350 volunteers and 26 corporate sponsors. Santiago Lobeira, a founding partner of Sustenta.com, sits on BRI”s international advisory.
The campaign garnered high profile media attention, including a front-page story in the Los Angeles Times. The campaign coordinators hope the success of the 2012 event will encourage more participation in the February 2013 campaign, including increased international media attention, more help from the regional government, increased involvement from local and international schools and universities, coordinated efforts of local citizens and businesses, the building of a conservation model that can be applied to other villages in the future, and even the construction of a trash museum and research center in Mahahual. For more information on how you can help, visit http://www.limpiamahahual.org.
Above: For the 2012 campaign, volunteers collected in one day a total of 427 bags of PET plastic (more than 1200 kg) and 555 bags of trash (more than 3600 kg). Dr. Francisco Montes de Oca (pictured in front) and his students from the University of Quintana Roo collected debris on behalf of BRI, winning 2nd place in terms of total volume of trash collected on the day of the big beach cleanup. Photo © H. Bruce Rinker
Left: The big winner of the campaign was an enthusiastic youth named Luis Fernando who singlehandedly collected more than 200 kg of PET despite his long-term disability. By all accounts, the third year of beach cleanup in Mahahual was a tremendous success! Photo © H. Bruce Rinker
Conservation projects such as the Limpia Mahahual Campaign allow scientific experts, business people, educators, students, and local citizens to work shoulder-to-shoulder on projects with immediate benefit to communities. These types of projects are an effective approach to Rene Dubos’ maxim to “think globally, act locally.” BRI is a conservation organization that embraces this principle of theory and practice wherever its staff works around the globe.
See the short documentary below about the Limpia Mahahual campaign.