National governance system for the management of biodiversisty issues in mexico: the case of protected areas

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NATIONAL GOVERNANCE SYSTEM FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF BIODIVERSISTY ISSUES IN MEXICO: THE CASE OF PROTECTED AREAS
Gerardo Guiza
Nairobi, Kenya
Introduction

It is estimated that approximately more than 10 million of species of plants, fungus and animals actually exist on Earth out of which only 1.8 million are known. Despite this fact, actually we have a clear idea on the magnitude of livingorganisms and its distribution on Earth. Mexico finds itself among the first five countries considered as “megadiverse” which host 60 to 70 per cent of the biological diversity know in the planet. Twelve percent of the world’s diversity is found in Mexico although Mexico surface territory is actual 1.5% of the world’s total.
A special component of this biodiversity is the high proportion ofspecies that are only found in Mexico (endemic) More than 15,000 plants, for example (around 50 to 60 percent of Mexico’s total) are endemic. If one of them disappears from Mexico they will disappear from the planet. For this reason Mexico gives a great priority to the endemic species in its conservation policies. The responsibility that we have to get know, use and preserve this patrimony forourselves and the world is enormous. The wealth and uniqueness of Mexico’s biological diversity confers us a very important role in many international fora.
Evolution of the governance system
In Mexico environmental governance has evolved along with cultural and socioeconomic dynamics, as well as thanks to the influence of international trends. Regarding biological diversity, Mexican officialenvironmental authorities refer to governance as the sum of policy instruments, rules, procedures, financing mechanisms, participation of stakeholders for the protection, handling, sustainable use and restoration of the different biological resources (ecosystems, species and populations). Conservation represents a unique and essential element of sustainability, and it is therefore in the community’sservice to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life.
In this regard, sustainability and quality of life are the commitments of the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (Comisión Nacional de Areas Naturals Protegidas, Conanp) its conservation work, sees the protection of biological resources in these designated areas.
The conservation strategies being equivalent to thecurrent Natural Protected Areas began formally in Mexico in 1876, with the protection of the forest “Desierto de los Leones” originally aimed at assuring the conservation of 14 springs that supplied water to Mexico City.
It was until Mexican Constitution was published, in 1917, that the property concept was included as a social role, and regulations and restrictions were established to exploit thosenatural resources that could be appropriated. On this basis, the forest Desierto de los Leones was declared the first national park. However, Mexico failed to establish, in a clear and effective manner, policies for conservation of ecosystems and its biodiversity during the subsequent five decades.
Nonetheless, important conservation efforts were made resulting in the protection of basins ofimportant cities, the creation of National Parks and Forest Reserves at places having scenic and environmental value. Decrees for nationalization or expropriation of National Parks during that period were considered by owners, communities and local authorities as centralist impositions. In many cases, the control limitations were not implemented, so said parks were considered as “paper parks”.
A newera began early in the seventies. Efforts focused, on one part, on the conservation of biodiversity, and complementarily on environmental or ecological services, and on the other part on the expressed incorporation of human communities through biosphere reserves in the model. Obviously, the future of the Natural Protected Areas (NPAs) required a commitment to achieve dignified levels of welfare...
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