Assessment of ecosystem services in protected areas in Mexico

Mountain landscape in Mexico

Sierra San Pedro Martir, State of Baja California. Picture: Ruben Romero/ CONANP

Mexico has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world, considering both the number of ecosystems as well as the diversity of its species. However, over the last few decades, processes such as land-use change, urbanisation, population growth and the overuse of natural resources have damaged or completely destroyed the ecosystems. This in turn affects the many important services (known as ecosystem services) that they provide for humans. For example, the drinking water supply has diminished, there are difficulties in the pollination of crops and the natural landscape is becoming less attractive for tourists. Nevertheless, the value of these ecosystem services for human well-being and the economy is not recognised.

The Mexican National Commission of Natural Protected Ares (CONANP) is responsible for the management and protection of Mexico’s natural resources. It places great importance on the collection of information and knowledge on the ecosystem services in protected areas in Mexico and takes the value of these services into account in political decision-making processes. Among other things, this includes acquiring additional financing. To this end, the commission has been supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH with International Climate Initiative (IKI) funding amounting to EUR 4,750,000. The project advises the Mexican partners on how the benefits of ecosystem services can be recorded, assessed in economic terms and brought into political decision-making processes.

Disseminating knowledge on the value of ecosystem services

  1. Studies on the assessment of ecosystem services should be geared towards influencing policy and attach importance to practical applications.
  2. There are numerous sources of financing for this area; the key to conserving ecosystem services is utilising synergies, improving the coordination of policies and channelling subsidies.
  3. Communication on the topic should be clear, goal-oriented and tailored to the target group. There are already concrete and effective examples for this.

The IKI project has already introduced some measures since the conference. With GIZ support, CONANP initiated a training programme on the 'integration of ecosystem services in policy, planning and practice'. The first training measure with participants from various departments in the Commission and regional directors of protected areas took place in January 2014. Further training measures are planned for February and March in the federal states of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Veracruz with adapted formats and new participants, for example from city governments, protected areas and non-governmental organisations.

The project partners are also currently identifying pilot regions for implementing systematic strategies for assessing ecosystem services. At the same time, a communications strategy is being developed. The exchange of experiences in this area with other countries is a key element of the project work.