National City, CA (PRWEB) October 30, 2012
The International Community Foundation is pleased to announce the first-ever conservation UMA or "Unit for the Conservation, Management and Utilization of Wildlife." Granted earlier in 2012 to ICF grantee, Pronatura Noroeste, the UMA will provide protection to 207,000 acres of coastal habitats. These habitats affect local ecotourism, fishing and whale watching in Laguna San Ignacio, part of the Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve.
The Reserve is the largest protected area in Mexico and contains the most pristine whale birthing lagoon in the nation. The lagoon complex also provides vital habitats for migratory shorebirds, sea turtles, and local fisheries, and serves as a major revenue source for local communities. In fact, the lagoon contains the only certified lobster fishery in Mexico.
Last year, scientists documented record numbers of gray whales in the lagoon after years of declining census numbers. Part of this rebound should be attributed to the increasing protection of coastal lagoon mangroves and sandy beaches, as well as inland salt flats that were once destined for industrial mining.
The UMA is a major step forward for conservation in Mexico. Typically used for agricultural products like agave, this UMA instead targets a service – ecotourism. The ecotourism operators provide seasonal employment for local residents and a revenue stream that helps them maintain a decent quality of life throughout the year. And, of course, ecotourism depends on a pristine and healthy environment.
CEO of Pronatura México, A.C, Martín Gutiérrez Lacayo, states: "The partnership realized today is another example of how private enterprise, government and community can work together managing natural resources to ensure long-term conservation of important ecosystems in our country. It is only in this way that we will be able to articulate strategic actions, concentrate investments and implement programs that benefit communities and that protect the rich natural resources that belong to the citizens of Mexico."
The historic UMA agreement was made possible thanks to the steady support and commitment of the Laguna San Ignacio Conservation Alliance, of which the International Community Foundation is a founding member. While the Alliance has secured the first year of funding for Pronatura's start-up costs, the UMA will require annual monitoring, patrolling, environmental education activities and field research.
The International Community Foundation has begun a campaign for the Baja Stewardship Fund that will help Pronatura manage this 207,000-acre parcel in perpetuity and needs your help to raise $495,000 this year to help Pronatura with its on-the-ground management needs.
For additional information on how to help protect Laguna San Ignacio's precious coastal and marine habitat, please click here:
For more information about the International Community Foundation, please visit http://www.icfdn.org