Sheep herding inside the Water Forest, Grazing can turn into  a key conservation tool. 

Mexico

Mexico is one of the five most biologically and culturally diverse countries in the world — but it also has one of the highest deforestation rates.

© Jurgen Hoth

With a little help, we can turn it around.

From chili peppers and avocados to coffee and agave, Mexico is famous for a host of flavors, colors and scents enjoyed by people around the world. But did you know that small-scale farmers manage most of the agricultural sector in Mexico? By improving the sustainability of these farms, we protect vital forests, fresh water and biodiversity that is key to human well-being.

Why is Mexico important?

Food we eat

Mexico is a major producer and exporter of many diverse crops, including coffee, vanilla, mangos and corn.

Jobs and prosperity

Mexico’s agro-forest systems support communities by offering diverse ways of making a living, increasing available jobs and improving livelihoods. In addition to their main crops, farmers also produce dairy products, crafts, flowers and more.

Climate stability

With its large agricultural sector, Mexico can have a big impact on world climate. Food produced with sustainable practices supports healthy forests and rivers, a stable global climate and protection against extreme weather events.

Urban sustainability

As one of the largest cities in the world, Mexico City offers a unique opportunity to develop a better understanding of the link between ecosystem health and sustainability of urban areas.

What are the issues?

32% of coffee production lost

Climate change

Extreme weather is the number one threat to small-scale coffee producers in Chiapas. A year’s harvest can be completely wiped out by torrential rains or hurricanes. In 2014, leaf rust, which blocks sunlight to leaves and kills coffee plants, wiped out 32% of coffee production.

70% of water from threatened forest

Deforestation

More than 70% of Mexico City’s water comes from the nearby forest. The rest is transported from distant watersheds through costly infrastructure. Although water from forest-fed aquifers is more efficient and cost-effective, the recharge is increasingly reduced as urbanization takes over forested areas.

2x food production needed

Population growth

Mexico will need to double its food production in order to feed every mouth by 2050. The additional land needed for agriculture is also the land that provides water for agriculture. More sustainable means of production will ease this pressure and reduce food waste.

Our solutions

In Mexico, Conservation International is helping improve governance and increase cooperation between urban and rural areas. We work to empower local landowners and help local people and small businesses thrive in a rapidly changing society. We provide farmers with sustainable agriculture techniques and help calculate the value of farms not only in terms of food production, but also in terms of carbon stored, fresh water provided and local species preserved.

 

What can you do?

Eat sustainably

Not all food is created equal. Choose to eat sustainably. This will protect forests, maintain biodiversity, provide water and preserve our...

© CI/photo by Miguel Ángel de la Cueva

Watch

Sandie Fournier explains carbon markets in Chiapas, Mexico

© Chris Burkard
© Jessica Scranton

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