Ancient Maya City and Protected Tropical Forests of Calakmul, Campeche
The site is located in the central/southern portion of the Yucatán Peninsula, in southern Mexico and includes the remains of the important Maya city Calakmul, set deep in the tropical forest of the Tierras Bajas. The city played a key role in the history of this region for more than twelve centuries and is characterized by well-preserved structures providing a vivid picture of life in an ancient Maya capital. The property also falls within the Mesoamerica biodiversity hotspot, the third largest in the world, encompassing all subtropical and tropical ecosystems from central Mexico to the Panama Canal.
2017 Conservation Outlook
Current state and trend of VALUES
Overall PROTECTION and MANAGEMENT
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Description of values
Major and highly valuable remnant of a vast human-environment forest system
The Calakmul Reserve is characterized by its size, good state of conservation and continuity with other regions in the Yucatán Peninsula, Chiapas, Guatemala and Belize. It is considered to be the largest forest mass in Mexico and, together with the forests of Guatemala and Belize, the second largest remnant forest left in Latin America after the Amazon (WHC, 2015).
Following historic conversion and modification during the highly sophisticated Maya civilization, the forests continue to be shaped by past human use (IUCN, 2014).
Rare species and high species richness
The Maya Forest is a heterogeneous landscape mosaic, including closed forests, seasonally inundated lowland forests and grasslands. Accordingly, the property offers a wide array of habitats and niches for a highly diverse flora and fauna (IUCN, 2014).
The area is home to 86 species of mammals (including five of the six cats that exist in Mexico, jaguar (Panthera onca), puma (Puma concolor), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), margay (Leopardus wiedii), and jaguarondi (Herpaolurus yagouaroundi); 358 species of birds (including the king vulture (Sarcoramphus papa), ocellated turkey (Agriochars ocellata), hawk eagle (Spizaetus ornatus), and parrots like Amazona albinifrons; 75 species of reptiles; 18 species of amphibians; 31 species of fish; 380 species of butterflies; and 1,500 species of flora (10% endemic). The Reserve has about 90 endemic species (SIMEC-CONANP 2017).
The vertebrate fauna is particularly noteworthy, with charismatic species including two endangered species of primates, Yucatán Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta pigra) and Geoffroy’s Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi). Calakmul is also home to important populations of the endangered Baird's Tapir (Tapirus bairdii) (IUCN, 2014 and IUCN Red List).
Sixty-two species of Melolonthinae, Rutelinae, Dynastinae, Cetoniinae, Scarabaeinae, Ceratocanthinae, Trogidae, y Passalidae are recorded from Calakmul (Morón-Ríos and Morón 2016).
While small-scale in the property, both subsistence and commercial agriculture and cattle-raising cause consistent concern, aggravated by inadequate land use practices by immigrants from other parts of Mexico (Government of Mexico, 2013, Garcia-Frapolli et al. 2009, TNC n.d.).
Widespread uncontrolled extraction of timber and non-timber forest products, including for illegal trade in plants, wildlife and wildlife derivates with multiple direct and indirect effects on the ecosystem and its natural values (e.g. IUCN, 2014, Government of Mexico, 2013, Garcia-Frapolli et al., 2009, TNC n.d.).
However, the most significant threats come from forest fires and deforestation.
A recent analysis (2017) of satellite photographs conducted by OPI Analytics estimated that between 2014 and 2016 illegal logging deforested around 1 km² in Calakmul, mainly of precious woods granadillo (Platymiscium yucatanum) and ciricote (Cordia dodecandra).
The Mexican Government also reported that in May 2017 illegal wood (granadillo and ciricote) was seized in the Reserve by the federal Environmental Gendarmery (https://www.gob.mx/conanp/prensa/gendarmeria-da-golpe-contra-la-tala-ilegal-en-calakmul).
These reports indicate that illegal logging persist in the Reserve.
The development of the Management Plan for the Property is a priority in this regard. The development of the Management Plan for the Property is a priority ion this regard.
The development of the Management Plan for the Property is a priority.
Illegal logging persists in the Reserve.
The National Commission on Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) has finalized or is finalizing an evaluation of the effectiveness of all or most federal protected areas, through its Sistema de Informacion, Monitoreo y Evaluacion para la Conservacion (SIMEC, https://simec.conanp.gob.mx/evaluacion). However, that information has not become publicly available as of 31 August 2017.
According to the Mexican government (Progress Report 2016), a document titled "General Principles of Collaboration between INAH and CONANP" is being revised to establish the terms for the protection of Calamus’s biodiversity values. INAH and CONANP together are (i) preparing a work plan for the Reserve; (ii) setting forth the Advisory Council and World Heritage Advisory Technical Sub-Council with representatives from relevant stakeholders; (iii) working towards developing a Vision Program for the Municipality of Calakmul 2013-2040 (supported by the German Technical Cooperation Agency, GIZ); (iv) modifying the 2004 decree expropriating 150,710 ha of forests; (v) working on a Management Plan; (vi) strengthening the surveillance and protection of the property; and (vii) developed and published numerous documents on ecosystems, species, environmental services, and expanded the archaeological scientific knowledge about the state of conservation, cultural affiliation, architectural styles among others.
It should, however, be noted that no information is available on the status of the joint Management Plan – a particularly important document – which was to be completed in late 2016.
More than 20,000 people live in ejidos (communal land) in and around Calakmul and depend on the forest for their livelihoods. The quality of life for these communities has deteriorated due to threats to the forest such as unsustainable ranching, road construction, illegal hunting, illegal logging, forest fires, and poorly planned tourism development.
|№||Organization/ individuals||Project duration||Brief description of Active Projects|
|1||GIZ (formerly GTZ), KfW and “Comisión Centroamericana de Ambiente y Desarrollo (CCAD)”||Regional progrmme “Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Selva Maya” operating in Belize, Guatemala and Mexico. Activities in Mexico build on earlier project “Management of Natural Resources and Sustainable Regional Development in Southeast Mexico, (PROSURESTE)”.|
|2||Mesomerican Biological Corridor||Major regional conservation initiative by 8 countries formalized in 1997 based on even earlier discussions (“Paseo Pantera”) with many activities in Campeche and specifically in Calakmul. This includes a wealth of information on the corridor between Calakmul and Sian Ka’an, the World Heritage property in the neighboring state of Quintana Roo.|
|3||El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR)||Public research institution (natural and social sciences) with a focus on sustainable development in Southern Mexico. Numerous past and current research projects in and around Calakmul, documented in publicly accessible database.|
|4||Inter-American Development Bank (IADB or BID)||According to the nomination dossier there was a Project on “Management Promotion of the Trinational Ecosystem of the Maya Tropical Forest (Mexico-Belize-Guatemala)”, a cooperation based on 2005 trilateral MoU between Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. Status and results are not specified.|
|5||Alianza WWF-Fundacion Carlos Slim||Many projects focusing on consolidating community reserves for sustainable forest management, developing sustainable economic alternatives and employment for local communities, monitoring endangered and threatened species, updating the management plans of community reserves, etc.|
|№||Site need title||Brief description of potential site needs||Support needed for following years|
|1||Local and indigenous sustainable livelihoods, and knowledge and practice||Considering the longstanding natural resource use, including scarce and vulnerable freshwater, as well as the impact of forest fires and illegal logging, there is an urgent need to develop and implement sustainable viable economic alternatives and employment for the ejidos and local communities, as well as the knowledge and practices of the local communities deserve full consideration in the management of the property.|
|2||Coordination and cooperation of management and conservation in the Selva Maya||The property is an integral part of a vast and contiguous network of protected areas of different categories and governance types. Despite many past and current efforts there is much room for improved coordination and cooperation. Examples in the state of Campeche include the contiguous “Zones of Ecological Protection” Balam-Kú and Balam-Kin. Further opportunities in Mexico include cooperation with the neighboring state of Quintana Roo, including but not limited to the connectivity between Calakmul and Sian Ka’an. Across the border with Guatemala, the Mirador-Rio Azul National Park and Biotopo Protegido Naachtún Dos Lagunas deserve to be mentioned in particular as they are adjacent to the property|
|3||Sustainable Tourism Development||Official speeches and press releases at the occasion of the inscription of the significantly enlarged and now mixed World Heritage property focus on ambitious tourism plans. This implies risk of direct and indirect impacts (water consumption, waste and wastewater management, immigration, additional infrastructure), as well as opportunities in terms of conservation funding, local creation of income and employment and visitor education. Careful planning seems indispensable in order to balance the expected economic benefits with social and environmental costs.|
|1||Andrews, J.M., 2006. Shifts of strategies and focus of the conservation efforts of PRONATURA on the Yucatan Peninsula: a personal history. Landscape and Urban Planning 74: 193–203.|
|2||BirdLife International. 2012. Important Bird Areas factsheet: Maya-Lacandon. www.birdlife.org|
|3||Bray, D.B., Duran, E., Ramos, V.H., Mas, J.F., Velazquez, A., McNab, R.B., Barry, D., Radachowsky, J. 2008. Tropical Deforestation, Community Forests, and Protected Areas in the Maya Forest. Ecology and Society 13 (2): 56. www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol13/iss2/art56/|
|4||Briceño-Méndez, M., E.J. Naranjo, S. Mandujano, M. Altricher and R. Reyna-Hurtado . 2106. Responses of two sympatric species of peccaries (Tayassu pecari and Pecari tajacu) to hunting in Calakmul, Mexico. Tropical Conservation Science 9: DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1940082916667331|
|5||Castillo, M.A. 2003. The Mexico-Guatemala Border: New Controls on Transborder Migrations in View of Recent Integration Schemes? FRONTERA NORTE 15(29): 35-64|
|6||Chavez, C, G. Ceballos and M. Amin. 2006. Ecología poblacional del jaguar y sus implicaciones para la conservación en la península de Yucatán. Pp. 91-100. In: Ceballos, G., C. Chavez, R. List and H. Zarza (eds). Conservacion y Manejo del Jaguar en México: Estudios de Caso y Perspectivas. Conabio, Alianza WWF-Telcel, UNAM, México.|
|7||Chowdhury, R.R. 2006. Landscape change in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, Mexico: Modeling the driving forces of smallholder deforestation in land parcels. Applied Geography 26: 129–152.|
|8||Conservation International. 2013. Mesoamerica. Hotspot description. www.conservation.org/where/priority_areas/hotspots/north_ce…|
|9||Earp, C. 2011. Characterizing Invasive Species: The Case of Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum) in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor Sian Ka’an-Calakmul, Mexico. Master’s Thesis. The State University of New Jersey.|
|10||Ericson J., Freudenberger, M.S., Boege, E. 1999. Population Dynamics, Migration, and the Future of the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve. Occasional Paper No. 1 Program on Population and Sustainable Development (PSD). American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).|
|11||Galindo-Leal, C. 1988. Diseño de reservas: el “mal congénito” de Calakmul. Biodiversitas 4(17): 9-15.|
|12||García-Frapolli, E., Ramos-Fernández, G., Galicia, E., Serrano, A. 2009. The complex reality of biodiversity conservation through Natural Protected Area policy: Three cases from the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Land Use Policy 26: 715–722.|
|13||Gaudry Sada, K.H. 2013. Territorial governance through nature conservation regimes. An analysis of spatial planning traditions and the role of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Dr. rer. Nat. Albert-Ludwigs Universität Freiburg, Germany. www.freidok.uni-freiburg.de/volltexte/9144/pdf/GAUDRY_2013…|
|14||Gorenflo, L.J. and Katrina Brandon 2003. Demographic Change, Land Use, and Conservation in and Around Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, Mexico. Human Dimensions of Biodiversity, Center for Applied Biodiversity Science Conservation International Washington, DC, USA http://www.academia.edu/7257479/Demographic_Change_Land_Use….|
|15||Gorenflo, L.J. and Katrina Brandon 2003. Demographic Change, Land Use, and Conservation in and Around Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, Mexico. Human Dimensions of Biodiversity, Center for Applied Biodiversity Science Conservation International Washington, DC, USA http://www.academia.edu/7257479/Demographic_Change_Land_Use….|
|16||Gorenflo, L.J., Brandon, K. 2003. Demographic Change, Land Use, and Conservation in and Around Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, Mexico. Draft paper.|
|17||Government of Mexico. 2013. Nomination of Ancient Maya City and Protected Tropical Forests of Calakmul, Campeche.|
|18||Government of Mexico. 2017. https://www.gob.mx/conanp/prensa/gendarmeria-da-golpe-contr….|
|19||IUCN, 2014. World Heritage Nomination – IUCN Technical Evaluation. Ancient Maya City And Protected Forests Of Calakmul, Campeche (extension And Renomination Of The “ancient Maya City Of Calakmul, Campeche”). Gland, Switzerland.|
|20||La Prensa (2012). http://laprensa.peru.com/actualidad/noticia-medio-ambiente-…|
|21||Lawrence D., Vester, H. F. M., Pérez-Salicrup, D., Eastman, J.R., Turner B.L., Geoghegan. J. 2004. Integrated Analysis of Ecosystem Interactions With Land-Use Change: The Southern Yucatán Peninsular Region.|
|22||Morón-Ríos, A. and M.A. Morón . 2016. Evaluación de la Fauna de Coleoptera Scarabaeoidea en la Reserva de la Biósfera de Calakmul, Campeche, México. Southwestern Entomologist 41(2):469-484.|
|23||Naranjo, E.J, J.C. López-Acosta and R. Dirzo. 2010. La cacería en México. Biodiversitas 91:6-10.|
|24||ParksWatch. 2002. México: Reserva de la Biosfera de Calakmul. www.parkswatch.org|
|25||Porter Bolland, L., Drew, A.P., Vergara-Tenorio, C. 2006. Analysis of a natural resources management system in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve. Landscape and Urban Planning 74: 223–241.|
|26||Pronatura Península de Yucatán, A.C., The Nature Conservancy (compiladores). 2005. Plan de Conservación para Calakmul-Balam Kin-Balam Kú, Campeche, México. 88 p.|
|27||Schneider, L.C. 2004. Bracken Fern Invasion in Southern Yucatan: A Case for Land-change Science. The Geographical Review 94(2): 229-241.|
|28||Secretaría de Medio Ambiente, Recursos Naturales y Pesca. 2000. Programa de Manejo del Area Natural Protegida con el carácter de Reserva de la Biosfera la región conocida como “Calakmul”, ubicada en los municipios de Champotón y Hopelchén (hoy Municipio Calakmul), en el Estado de Campeche, establecida mediante Decreto Presidencial publicado en el Diario Oficial de la Federación el 23 de mayo de 1989. Diario Oficial. Viernes 7 de abril de 2000.|
|29||Steadman-Edwards, P, 1997. Socioeconomic Root Causes of Biodiversity Loss: The Case of Calakmul, Mexico. World Wildlife Fund-Mexico, Mexico, DF.|
|30||The Nature Conservancy (TNC). N.d. Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, Mexico. Parks in Peril.|
|31||WWF-Mexico and Fundacion Carlos Slim. 2017. wwf.org.mx; http://fundacioncarlosslim.org|