GESG Press Kit 2014


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GESG Press Kit 2014

  1. 1. Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda I.A.P Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda I.A.P (GESG) was founded in 1987 by a small group of local residents in response to the alarming levels of destruction and deforestation occurring throughout the region. Investing in environmental education and community outreach projects, one by one the 600+ communities of the Sierra Gorda joined with GESG in what became the country’s largest conservation movement. By 1997, one third of the State of Queretaro had been decreed as a federally protected area, creating Mexico’s most eco-diverse Biosphere, and the world’s first to be established as a direct result of grassroots efforts. Today, the GESG leads an alliance in support of environmental education and restoration, sustainable economic development and tourism that benefits local landowners. About us Our history We are Mexico’s only non-governmental alliance of local grass-roots organizations, working together to restore, preserve, and conserve the stunning bio- diversity of the Sierra Gorda. We have pioneered a collaborative approach to conservationand sustainable development that generates a 17 to 1 return on social investment. This “living” model of conservation sees 35,000 trained community members carry out thousands of small actions in restoration, recycling and sustainable development each day. With our models of carbon capture, eco-tourism, and preservation inspiring change at both the national and international level, we are now a global force for conservation and sustainability. Our mission is to mobilize communities to protect and preserve Mexico’s most eco- andbio-diverse natural protected area.
  2. 2. Our People Martha Isabel “Pati” Ruiz Corzo With 30 years experience in innovative conservation and community engagement, Pati is one of Latin America’s most respected environmental leaders. Born in Mexico City, she worked as a professional violinist and music teacher in Queretaro City before trading her middle-class lifestyle for Roberto’s old family homestead high in the Sierra Gorda mountains. Seeing the environmental destruction being wrought, she began working to unite the communities of the region to preserve the Sierra Gorda. Once the Biosphere Reserve was decreed, Pati was appointed as the Federal Director, a role she held from 1997- 2009, before returning to GESG. Today, Pati continues to lead the GESG, and advocate the positive forces of ecotourism, environmental awareness, recycling, and sustainable growth to combat the challenges posed by extreme poverty and climate change. Her efforts and the achievements of the local alliance have been recognised internationally, with Pati receiving the 2013 UNEP Champions of the Earth award for “Inspiration and Action”, and the National Geographic Society/Buffett Award for Leader-ship in Latin American Conservation, amongst other accolades. She is also a Social Entrepreneur of Ashoka, the Schwab Foundation and Associate Laureate of the Rolex Prize for Enterprise. Pati participates on boards including the Board of Forest Trends, Conservation International Mexico, and is a regular speaker at international forums on corporate responsibility. Roberto Pedraza Ruiz An environmentalist and nature photographer, Roberto has dedicated his work to the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve. His photographs have won prizes in Mexico, Japan and Spain, and been published in books including Nature in Sight (2012) and The World´s Rarest Birds (2013), as well as in the National Geographic Español, México Desconocido and Biodiversitas. Roberto’s images have become a valuable tool to docu- ment the diversity of species in the region and strengthen the importance of protecting the Reserve. In 2013 his work was awarded the Ecological Merit Medal by the LVII Legislature of Queretaro State. Roberto currently manages GESG’s Lands for Conservation program, an initiative creating private natural reserves to protect areas of significant biological value in the Reserve, and is the official speaker of The Climate Project. Photo: Ewan Burns/Audubon
  3. 3. The Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve Featuring an exceptional variety of species and ecosystems, the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve (SGBR) is roughly the size of Mallorca, Spain, covering 384,567 hectares, or the northern 32% of the state of Queretaro. It is named for the bioregion which extends to Guanajuato, San Luis Potosí and Hidalgo States. In terms of ecosystem diversity, the SGBR occupies first place in mega-diverse Mexico among natural protected areas, being home to 10 of Mexico’s 11 ecosystems. These ecosystems are found at altitudes between 350 to 3,100 meters above sea level, with rugged mountains, canyons, lush valleys and vertical caves carved out from the limestone of the Huasteca Karst. Vegetation types range from arid scrub to temperate and mountain cloud forests, riparian forests and three variants of tropical forests. The Reserve shelters numerous species of flora and fauna at risk of extinction, including the Magnolia dealbat and Yucca queretaroensis plants, and among fauna, the jaguar, the bearded wood partridge. It also serves as a refuge for migratory species of birds and butterflies. With its extraordinary biotic values, the SGBR is part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves of the Man and Biosphere Program (MaB) and is recognized as being a globally important habitat for the conservation of bird populations (IBA). The SGBR has more than 500 archaeological sites, including five 18th-century Franciscan missions which have been designated as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites. The Biosphere Reserve is also home to around 640 communities and 100,000 inhabitants, who own 97% of the land, and therefore play a critical role in its preservation and protection. More than 130 species of mammals, including the jaguarundi (pictured below) have so far been found in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve. The Reserve also boasts an extraordinary 2,308 plant species, many of which are yet to be found anywhere else on earth.
  4. 4. We believe that adapting to climate change and fighting poverty must go hand in hand. Our experience has shown that sustainable conservation of the SGBR’s ecosystems can only be achieved by generating economic opportunities for local landowners. As such, we invest in innovative programs that perform across the triple bottom line – people, planet and profit. These are just a few examples of the new conservation economy in action. Eco-Tourism Until recently, many families in the Sierra Gorda had few options to earn an income beyond destructive illegal logging, unsustainable farming and hunting practices, or poorly-paid and often dangerous labor migration. With the introduction of community-based eco- tourism, these communities now have the chance to keep their rich culture and traditions intact, while building their employment opportunities and business skills. For instance, we are supporting a network of “small-footprint” microenterprises that produce and sell local ceramic, embroidery and organic food products. These small businesses now have access to a growing tourism market, providing them with a local and sustainable employment option. Importantly, eco-tourism is also giving national and international visitors access to one of the most bio- diverse regions on Earth, building understanding and support for innovative conservation practices. Through our partnership with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council as the chosen Early Adopter of the Sustainable Destination Standards of the World Tourism Organization, we aim to grow and provide a sustainable model for other key regions to adopt.v “Eco-tourism is helping to deliver viable alternative livelihoods to some of Mexico’s poorest communities, with many – women in particular– now being able to generate an income. It’s also introducing a new audience to one of Mexico’s most important environmental regions, in a sustainable, responsible way.” Pati Ruiz Corzo Our Work
  5. 5. Climate Change Adaptation To conserve the biocapacity of the State, we are working directly with local landowners to pioneer new conservation financing programs. These activities are helping to restore and regenerate old forests which are often degraded by cattle grazing, and further endangered by manmade forest fires in what is an area of extreme rural poverty. For instance, our Biodiversity Carbon program sees government and corporate partners directly supporting traditional owners of the forest to receive fair compensation for their conservation and regeneration efforts. This includes working with businesses to reduce their carbon debt through offseting their activities and corporate events, and faciliating ways for tourists to offset their travel. As a result, more than 14,000 thousand hectares of prime forest have so far been offset. The program sets a precedent in the country for State-based climate mitigation mechanisms that can successfully adapt international protocols to a local context. It is also the first forest carbon project to achieve validation by the Rainforest Alliance under the voluntary market standards of VCS and the Gold Standard of CCB. The GESG is also one of the first official hubs for the Savory Institute for holistic management throughout Mexico. Through this channel, we are able to teach the principles for sustainable land management practices across the country. These include the adoption of sustainable farming practices that help restore soil fertility and turn atmospheric carbon into water- holding, fertility-enhancing soil organic matter. So far, 13 ranches in the Reserve have adopted livestock and agricultural regenerative practices to increase land productivity. Through these programs and partnerships, GESG has the opportunity to influence public policy at a state and federal level, helping to ensure the incorporation of effective conservation practices in climate mitigation protocols. We will continue to work to share and replicate the successful forest and soils compensation programs, along with the techniques and training pioneered within the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, across the country. Our Work Biodiversity Carbon Offsets provide Sierra Gorda landowners with fair compensation for their conservation work, while also helping to fight climate change. Over the next few years, we hope to expand the program to protect 25,000 hectares of prime forest.
  6. 6. IN THE PRESS Grupo Ecológico’s work in the Sierra Gorda has been featured in media across the globe. Below is a selection of some of our favorite pieces. Earth from Above (Yann Arthus-Bertand) Mexico’s Sierra Gorda poverty-sierra-gorda hills-martha-isabel-ruiz-corzo-at-tedxnairobi/ Audubon Magazine Meet me at the Oasis Guardian Environment Network Conservation can be a weapon against poverty PBS Frontline World Mexico: The Business of Saving Trees mex&seg=1&mod=0 Biosphere Reserve in Mexico Earns Validation from Two Global Carbon Market Standards sierra-gorda-global-carbon-markets Planeta CNN Pati Ruiz Corzo, la profesora que dejó la ciudad para recuperar montañas zo-la-profesora-que-dejo-la-ciudad-para-recuperar-montanas A champion in the hills: Martha Isabel Ruiz Corzo at TEDxNairobi
  7. 7. Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda Alliance CONTACTS: Laura Pérez-Arce Email: Phone: (+52) 442 212 4777 Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda C. Septien Garcia 46, Colonia Cimatario, CP 76030 Querétaro, Querétaro, Mexico Email: Photography: Roberto Pedraza Ruiz (unless otherwise credited) 2013 UNEP Champions of the Earth award for “Inspiration and Action” 2012 National Geographic Society/Buffett Award for Leadership in Latin American Conservation 2002 Associate Laureate, Environment, Mexico 2012-13 Forest Heroes Award - Honorable Mention Selected Awards and Donors TO DO! 2013 International Contest for Socially Responsible Tourism