Canasta de Productos y Servicios de la Reserva de la Biósfera Sierra Gorda

Martha Isabel Ruiz Corzo

The project operates with the central axis of reconciling the economic development of local
communities in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, in the State of Querétaro, Mexico, with the conservation of its extraordinary biodiversity.

In its 383,567 ha the Biosphere has 100,000 inhabitants settled in 638 communities, which own 70% of the land as private property and the other 30% as communal property. This has resulted in the use of their natural resources, thus degrading their environment and biodiversity while continuing under conditions of poverty. For three decades, work has been done in favor of ecosystems and working with mountain people, diversifying productive and economic options.

We started the work with tourist micro-operators, with community craft workshops to which were added accommodation and food services; as of 2010, the activity was intensified by creating the Tourism Services Network, which has been consolidated in the region, with three axes: lodging (Eco-hostel Network), regional foods (Ruta del Sabor) and handicrafts (Craft Workshops).

The Sabino Seal was generated, a local certificate to standardize the quality of services for free. On the other hand, since 2013 an essential part has been to value and generate economic return for forest owners based on the environmental services that their forests generate, taking advantage of the resources of the National Forestry Commission and its Payment for Environmental Services Program.

The lack of economic return to sustain the natural infrastructure is the main cause of deforestation in Mexico and Latin America. For this reason and in view of the limited resources in this area, we set ourselves the task of raising the first base line of carbon stored in oak forests and the increments of biomass from the removal of cattle grazing and extractive activities, in a scheme that combats climate change, poverty and protects biodiversity.

All this with methodology and monitoring protocols developed in conjunction with the USDA Forest Service, for which it has all the necessary scientific rigor. Thanks to our management capacity and influence on public policies, the Government of the State of Querétaro has consolidated the State Carbon Compensation Fund, adopting our model which operates through a small tax paid by annual renewal of vehicle plates. Thus, mountain owners receive annual payments for CO2 captured by their forests, with a
subnational model that with common sense and local protocols has smoothed over the
complications of international protocols and guidelines.

Querétaro is already part of the Under2 Coalition of the Government of California; we have also achieved the registration of the first green NAMA in Mexico with the UNFCCC and the Federal Government, both for our proposal of forest carbon as well as soil through its regeneration.