Mesoamerican Society for Conservation and Biology (MSBC)
Mesoamerica extends from the Tehuantepec Isthmus in Mexico, including all Central American countries (Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama) and the states of Southern Mexico (Campeche, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Chiapas, Tabasco and Oaxaca), to the Darien Gap, with a total of 862,468 km2. Altogether, Mesoamerican mountains sum up 217,733 km2 or 25.2% of the entire region. Mesoamerican boasts a remarkable 12% of the world?s biodiversity for only about 2% of Earth?s terrestrial extension.
A total of 86 indigenous ethnic groups occupy 118,136 km2 or 54.2% of mountain territories in Mesoamerica. The greatest global threat to mountains and sustainable development in the region is climate change; other direct threats are mining industry, hydro-electric dams, urban sprawl to mountainous areas, deforestation and soil erosion.
Since Rio 1992, Mesoamerica finds itself immersed in a new and more complex international situation without having achieved, in recent years, rapid advances in human development and regional integration. This panorama poses strategic challenges that will not only require innovative and bold regional and national responses, but also major improvements in the collective capacity to implement them. Altogether, forests, state protected areas, biological corridors and indigenous territories cover 72.6% of mountains in Mesoamerica. Mountains clearly represent the region?s opportunity to strengthen conservation and sustainable development initiatives, in opposition to the more densely populated and industrially developed lowlands. In this regard, the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (MBC) is the region?s best opportunity to implement sustainable mountain development, if the Central American Integration System and its Central American Development Commission (SICA-CCAD) are allowed to work properly with a strong backing from the countries in the region. Connectivity conservation and management best practices should be replicated and adapted in the region, fostering the institutionalization of the regional initiative but expressed in local manifestations through alliances between governments and the civil society. Currently, the MBC covers only 36,208 km2 or 16.61% of the mountainous regions of Mesoamerica, with room for increasing connectivity.
The design of connectivity landscapes in mountains should be further conducted in order to fill conservation gaps, complete the regional network of protected areas, and in order to better plan land-use, connect mountainous areas at the regional and continental scale with more densely populated lowlands, providing a readily link that may enhance the appreciation for mountains in the regional psyche, and allow for the mitigation and adaptation to climate change.