£97,319,821 invested in 835 projects in 157 countries since 1992

The Darwin Initiative

Market Based Scheme for Conservation in La Primavera Forest Mexico

Prof. Jon Lovett and Arturo Balderas Torres, DICE- University of Kent, University of Twente and ITESO, Guadalajara
Darwin Project: 17027

A three-year Darwin Initiative project in Mexico came to an end in April and the research is moving rapidly into a community-based benefit-sharing scheme. One of Latin America's biggest rock bands is leading a novel project that implements the work carried out with Darwin Initiative support; and which proposes to tackle climate change at a local level and promote local sustainable development.

View from La Primavera Biosphere Reserve towards the Tequila volcano, one of the wildlife corridors. Picture taken by Arturo Balderas Torres.

Grammy Award-winning Maná, based in Guadalajara, Mexico, has always been committed to environmental projects in the region. It says this project, which emerges from research carried out under the Darwin Initiative since 2009, is one of the most important it has undertaken.

The project, which has also been given the endorsement of Mexico's President, Felipe Calderón, gives much needed support to an area of Mexico, La Primavera Forest, which has recently been devastated by fire. It also links closely to the theme of 'green economies', and the interaction between environment and economy, which featured strongly in the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

Jon Lovett, at one of the La Primavera forest fire towers with the Tequila volcano in the background. Picture taken by Arturo Balderas Torres.

It is based on research, led by Professor Jon Lovett, of the University of Twente, in the Netherlands, and a research fellow of the Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology at the University of Kent; and coordinated by Arturo Balderas Torres of the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO), Guadalajara in Mexico, looking at the potential to engage citizens to local forest owners and communities to compensate them for the ecological services they receive while promoting rural development.

Arturo Balderas Torres (center), coordinating fieldwork with Gerardo Cabrera (La Primavera Office). Picture taken by Luis F. Ponciano.

The Darwin Initiative project conducted a study in an area of Western Mexico called La Primavera, an important biosphere reserve near the city of Guadalajara, to find out whether direct links could be made between citizens, who enjoy the benefits of having La Primavera national park on their doorsteps and landowners who work to improve biodiversity.

Female puma and cubs in La Primavera. Camera trap project led by Karina Aguilar (La Primavera Office).

The model proposed by the team's research envisages local payment schemes for the services provided by the reserve, such as carbon sequestration to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, which would be used to directly compensate landowners who manage their land to promote conservation and biodiversity rather than simple profitability. The objective is to create incentives for maintaining and enhancing ecosystem services in the reserve and its currently unprotected wildlife corridors. During the Darwin project, after a thirty-year absence, puma were once again recorded in the reserve by local researchers and La Primavera management office, demonstrating the importance of protecting links between La Primavera and other forests.

Shrine in a fig tree on the way to Tala. Picture by Jon Lovett

Balderas Torres a lecturer at ITESO and pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Twente, says: 'These local schemes could have a huge impact for development, conservation and climate change mitigation. Mitigation and adaptation to climate change is a growing concern, once people get to know how they can contribute, it is more sensible for them paying to enhance public goods such as carbon and biodiversity when they can also have direct access to other benefits, such as being able to visit La Primavera and enjoy its natural beauties and improved air quality.'

Hot springs near Tala. Picture by Jon Lovett

The concept appealed to members of Maná, who, in 1995, established the Selva Negra Ecologic Foundation, an organisation that finances and supports important projects aimed at protecting the environment.

Path through the La Primavera forest. Picture by Jon Lovett

With the assistance of Selva Negra the Darwin Initiative research has been carried forwards into an implementation project spearheaded by Maná as they complete their Drama y Luz World Tour.

The band have estimated the cost of the carbon emissions and other environmental impacts caused during the tour and will make a contribution to mitigation activities that can be carried out locally, in a community located in one of the unprotected wildlife corridors near to La Primavera. The money paid by Maná will contribute to a £0.5 million development and conservation project that will see over 1000 hectares conserved and 80 hectares replanted.

Fher Olvera, lead singer of Maná, says: 'This is one of the most important projects we have undertaken. It shows the way forward by taking practical, concrete actions. It is not only about being committed to protecting the environment, but also protecting the livelihoods of people and their connection with nature.'

'It is not often that research is transformed into implementation so quickly and we are very grateful to Maná and Selva Negra whose support gives us an excellent example of how the model works in practice', says Professor Lovett. One of the main themes of the Rio+20 conference this year was the interaction between the environment and the economy. Here in La Primavera that linkage is being made through the Maná project. Everyone benefits: the farmers receive compensation for help to mitigate climate change by planting trees; the planet benefits from removal of greenhouse gases; and biodiversity benefits from the increased forest cover.'

Page last modified: Friday, 12 October 2012

Darwin 2012 - 20 years of the Darwin Initiative

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