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.

Biological significance

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 the zapote.


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 populations.
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 strategies include: 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.
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.