Just 20 islands off the Pacific coast of the Mexican states of Baja California and Baja California Sur hold more than sixty species that are found nowhere else in the world, as well as 11 threatened species and very important seabird, seal, and sealion colonies.
Remarkably, the area even includes four sites recognized by the Alliance for Zero Extinction. Unfortunately, a small number of introduced species have already caused extinctions and continue to pose significant threats. An enormous opportunity exists to humanely eliminate the threat caused by these species.
Much of the similar habitat on the mainland is highly valued coastal real estate and threatened by agricultural and urban development on both sides of the US-Mexico border. However, with one exception, these islands have only small settlements, which are dependent on marine resources and hence have few impacts on the islands.
A team headed by Island Conservation, with funding from the Global Conservation Fund at Conservation International, is now working with the Mexican National Protected Areas Commission to establish a carefully-zoned biosphere reserve and marine buffer across the 17 islands that are not yet protected.
*This article originally appeared in the Summer 2004 Hotspots eNewsletter.