Development of a monitoring system for biodiversity and climate change in the Selva Maya region
As of: March 2021
The Selva Maya is the largest contiguous tropical forest area in Central America and possesses a rich biodiversity with 23 different ecosystems. Progressive agriculture, forest fires, illegal logging and the illegal trade in flora and fauna lead to fragmentation and overuse of the rainforest area. Targeted protection and adaptation measures require reliable and regionally comparable monitoring data, so the project supports the regionally coordinated monitoring of biodiversity and climate change in the Selva Maya. The results are incorporated into political decision-making processes, contributing to protection and sustainable use. The project also supports cross-border monitoring approaches by strengthening the political and institutional framework conditions for regional cooperation and the sharing of experiences. At the same time, it provides support for monitoring institutions in processing the results in a target group-oriented manner and communicating them effectively.
State of implementation/results
- As part of the United Nations International Day "Clean Air for Blue Skies", the project team organized a virtual event on September 7, 2020 with participants from Guatemala, Mexico, Belize and Colombia. Several presentations were given on the importance of air quality for human health, the effects of forest fires and waste incineration on particulate matter pollution, and practical experience in air quality monitoring. Afterwards the participants had the opportunity to exchange experiences.
- The use of air quality data in the Selva Maya region has triggered a comprehensive process: Guatemalan communities, for example, are improving their waste management and the relevant authorities in Belize banned slash-and-burn practices on agricultural land during the COVID-19 lockdown to protect public health. Due to the increasing interest of stakeholders to collect air quality data in their area, the project has installed 30 additional air quality sensors in the project area since the beginning of 2020. This means that the original number of eight sensors has almost quintupled.
- The meteorological services of Guatemala, Belize and Mexico have joined forces to jointly publish reports with seasonal precipitation forecasts for the Selva Maya region (selvamaya.info/…).
- All three Selva Maya countries use the SMART monitoring software (www.smartconservationtools.org) to improve the management of their protected areas. After the first test phase, the Mexican protected area authority CONANP was so convinced by the monitoring software that it has introduced it in 28 additional protected areas since the beginning of 2020. This means that in the Mexican part of the Selva Maya alone, the number has more than tripled in just a few months from the original 13 protected areas to 41 areas.
- Supported by the project, the three partner countries are developing the integral strategy "Selva Maya 2030" in order to strengthen the natural and cultural values of the Selva Maya and thus contribute to a sustainable development of the region.