Mexico Designates Five Ramsar Sites
19 June 2012: The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) has announced that the Government of Mexico has designated five new Wetlands of International Importance, bringing the total number of sites for this party to 138 Ramsar Sites.
The first site, Anillo de Cenotes, is A complex of 99 cenotes (or sinkholes) that serve as resting grounds for waterfowl during their migration and hold endemic species of reptiles, amphibians, and birds. The cenotes are also home to a number of endangered or threatened species. Among the threats faced by the site are the accidental introduction of exotic species, environmental changes due to tourism, and the extraction of large volumes of water for tourist resorts.
the second site, Ecosistema Ajos-Bavispe, zona de influencia Cuenca Río San Pedro covers the principal course of San Pedro River in northern Mexico and 10 swamps in its surroundings. The site works as a wildlife corridor and hosts endemic and IUCN red-listed species. Threats include inappropriate livestock practices, the overexploitation of aquifers, and pollution.
The third site, Humedales de Montaña María Eugenia, is a high altitude urban wetland that plays a major role in the prevention and control of flooding, as well as for the recharge of aquifers to supply water to San Cristobal de las Casas. The site supports large populations of fish, birds and amphibians. Threats faced by the site include the constant increase of the population and the unorganized spread of housing, which have caused the area to diminish in size and led to deforestation. Activities carried out on the site include tourism and environmental education.
The fourth site, Laguna de Santiaguillo, comprises two small lakes, and is of importance for birds that nest in Alaska and Canada. It also provides habitat to a variety of IUCN Red-Listed mammals, supports 31 species of endemic herpetofauna, and 292 bird species. The site is considered one of the 30 Most Important Wetlands in North America. Threats to teh site include groundwater over-extraction, water pollution, management problems and drought conditions of the system.
The fifth site, Río San Pedro-Meoqui, is a representative wetland of the Chihuahua desert, and as one of the few hydrological sources, most of the agricultural irrigation depends on it. It also supports some bird populations during their migratory route. Threats to the site inlcude pollution and degradation of the river.
Mexico's designations contribute to one of the goals contained in the Ramsar Convention's Strategic Plan for 2009-2015, which is to reach a protected area of 250 million hectares by 2015. [Ramsar Press Release]