Rainforest Run to benefit Calakmul Biosphere Reserve
he 7th annual Rainforest 5K run/walk and 1-mile walk
will take place on Sunday, March 10, 7:30am at east Mission Bay Park. Proceeds
will benefit the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in Mexico, one of The Nature
Conservancy's Parks in Peril rainforests.
Established by presidential decree on May 23, 1989,
Calakmul Biosphere Reserve is one of the largest protected areas in Mexico,
covering more than 14 percent of Campeche State in the Yucatan Peninsula.
Together with the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala and the Rio Bravo
Conservation and Management Area in Belize, Calakmul forms part of a five-million
acre system of lowland tropical forest known as the Peten.
Calakmul is classified as hot, sub-humid with a summer rainy season. It
contains a great diversity of tropical vegetation and forested areas. Most
of the water collects in limestone depressions that serve as invaluable
resources for wildlife and migratory species.
A wide variety of endemic species are found in the Reserve.
The diversity of plants and animals studied to date is impressive and includes
ten species of large mammals considered in danger of extinction, including
five of the six felines found in Mexico. At least 30 birds of prey are found
in Calakmul including the king vulture and ornate hawk-eagle, as well as
the great curassow, the ocellated turkey, toucans, and 8 species of parrots.
Additionally, there are valuable plant species, such as ferns, bromeliads
and orchids, and trees, such as mahogany, cedar, ciricote, guayacan and
Major land uses within the area include logging, small-scale farming, and
chicle extraction. (Chicle, from the zapote tree, is a latex-like substance
used in chewing gum and rubber-type products.) Chicle extraction needs to
be better organized and regulated due to over-exploitation. Zapote trees
are important food sources for many birds and animals. In addition, because
of lack of food supplies, extractors live off the land, hunting an average
of 250 per day for 6 to 8 months a year. This puts a great stress on wildlife
Although the entire Reserve is federally decreed, only
45 percent of the land is federally owned. The remaining land is occupied
by ejidos (common or public lands.) Because boundaries have been marked
in only a small portion of the Reserve, local settlers are unable to determine
when they are using their own land and when they are in the Reserve. Some
local farmers wish to introduce cattle grazing in the area, which would
require clearing large areas and dedicating already scarce water to stock
tanks. Many ejidos in the Reserve area have timber rights and extract lumber
from the area.
Solutions through partnerships
Conservation programs that don't address local human needs are doomed to
failure. In Calakmul, this challenge is being met in innovative ways. The
challenge of managing a Biosphere Reserve is not the elimination of human
use from the land, but in finding ways in which the natural resources can
be conserved, while providing for ecologically appropriate use by the people
who live there. Pronatura Peninsula de Yucatan, a non-profit conservation
organization, The Nature Conservancy, several federal, state and municipal
agencies, Campeche University, and representatives from over 75 local communities
will write and implement necessary management plans. Sound scientific research,
of course, will form the basis for deciding first priorities, paying close
attention to endemic, threatened and endangered species. Several conservation
Regarding the last strategy targeting women, recent studies show the beneficial
impact they can have on the environment when they get directly involved.
Pronatura is actively engaging women in selected villages in organic agricultural
projects to provide family nutrition which parallel farming projects. Women
are also being hired as full-time employees, in professional staff positions,
and as project leaders.
- Determine the tolerance of the ecosystems to human pressure and develop
activities that are compatible with the Reserve's long term management.
- ·Develop forestry management and habitat restoration projects encouraging
long-term resource utility over short term exploitation.
- ·Train corps of rangers and project directors to provide adequate
protection and management for the Reserve. This will include radio communication
with vehicles and construction equipment to better define the boundaries
in areas where human settlement is encroaching.
- ·Create a constituency among residents and business people by providing
financial incentives for conserving Calakmul's natural resources. Communicate
basic information about soil, crop, animal and forest management to community
leaders, farmers and women.
If you are interested in helping protect this ancient
and imperiled rainforest, please remember that it takes a lot of brain time
and dollars to make this ambitious but practical program work. Show up at
the Rainforest Run March 10th "carboloaded" and with a list of
sponsors. We will provide a six-color t-shirt to all registered entrants,
a post-race party with awards, food, prizes and computerized race results
provided by Breaking Forty Race Consultants.
For more information and registration details, please
call Bill Sweetman at (619) 551-0874 or register at any of the three Movin'
Shoes stores in San Diego between March 1 and March 9.