Lowland tropical forest
Avoided loss (urgent threat)
Biodiversity and carbon (stacked)
The Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in Mexico is an UNESCO mixed world heritage site of both culture and nature (one of only 32 reserves worldwide that has this dual award status) due to its huge expanse of forest, exceptional biodiversity, and the impressive ancient ruins of one of the most powerful Mayan cities ever discovered. Calakmul covers 1.2 million hectares of continuous forest and it’s the northern extremity of the Selva Maya (Mayan Jungle) consisting of 10.6 million hectares of connected forests in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. Calakmul acts as a stronghold for a wide variety of fauna, particularly large ranging animals such as primates, felids and ungulates. Permanent water bodies are rare in CBR due to the geologic characteristics that cause rapid filtration of the rain, and the only water sources are rain-filled lakes, locally known as aguadas. Climate change has resulted in the disappearance of aguadas and a mass migration of fauna into the southeast buffer zone of Calakmul where the climate is more humid. Moreover, the unpredictable rainfall has forced indigenous Mayan communities to abandon traditional sustainable agriculture in favour of livestock farming resulting in extensive deforestation in the buffer zone of the reserve. Consequently, fauna is now highly concentrated in the edges of the reserve where they come into contact, and thus conflict, with humans who have cleared the forest for as cattle ranching.
This project aims to develop sustainable income streams so that the forest becomes more valuable to the local communities alive and protected than cleared for agriculture or grazing. This will include initiatives such as organic honey production with native bees, which in the Calakmul region can be three times more profitable than livestock farming due the exceptionally high quality of the honey. Honey production also has the added benefit of providing valuable pollinators to the reserve. Apiculture will be complimented with specialist wildlife ecotourism where communities trained in biodiversity monitoring methods as part of this project will receive language training and business training to establish tours in their forests. In addition, investment will be provided to improve the sustainability of existing areas of farmland outside of the reserve.