Mexico is among the most diverse countries on Earth, with the greatest variety of mammals in Central America. Rapid growth in the area, poor land use strategies, and demand for natural resources by a largey impoverished population threaten Mexico's biological wealth.
Coffee producers in the state of Chiapas live and work on some of the most pristine remaining land, where threatened animals like the maroon-fronted parrot, quetzals, and jaguars survive. And fishermen who make their living on the Gulf of California share space with nearly 900 species of fish and 34 marine mammal species – among them is the Critically Endangered vaquita, one of the most threatened porpoises on the planet.
The stakes are high. Now is the time for Mexico to make sustainable economic decisions that benefit people and wildlife at the same time.
As farmers face pressure to expand their businesses in the face of shrinking crop yields and booming populations, they need to make choices that keep the ecological integrity of the biosphere intact. As fishing and shrimp fleets in the Gulf of California catch roughly half of all seafood consumed in the country, they need to take care not to undermine their own livelihoods by making poor choices that impact the ecosystems that provide their bounty.
Mexico’s land and waters are fragile, but Mexico’s people can save them from collapse. To do so, Mexico is already taking action. A 2002 law prohibits large ships that trawl the ocean floor from entering certain protected areas of Mexico's waters. Mexico's president Felipe Calderon recently extended those protections by designating an additional 400,000 hectares of marine protected areas in 2007.
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