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At Wildlands Network we’ve always envisioned a fully connected network of wildlands throughout North America, where jaguars, wolves, bears and wolverines can roam freely and live their life at its fullest.
Our Mexico Program is a key element of this mission, as it expands this vision to what is arguably the most challenging landscape for conservation in North America: While Mexico has been protecting lands for over a hundred years, its legal framework for environmental protection needs much improvement, it has very little public land, and what is has is constantly being encroached upon, its wildlife law enforcement is almost non-existent, its growing population demands more and more resources, and massive projects like mines and dams often incur in serious human rights violations, making it one of the most dangerous countries for environmental defendants worldwide.
Precisely because of these challenges Wildlands Network sees the need to engage in this country and to go beyond our own campaigns and initiatives, which is why a core component of our work in Mexico is supporting local groups in their development and coordination. It is in this role that we have found our place in the public policy arena, facilitating initiatives that are consistent with our vision of robust and interconnected protected areas.
Because the United States and Mexico share a long list of keystones species, international collaboration beyond the whim of election cycles is a critical component of any recovery strategy. Whether it’s jaguars, Mexican wolves or black bears, Wildlands Network is uniquely positioned to weave together the science, policy and local knowledge from both sides of the border in the service of those initiatives that strive to protect them.
Our staff on the Borderlands and Mexico Programs work together on an almost daily basis on issues related to connectivity along the border, whether it’s monitoring the wildlife’s response to the border wall in Arizona or, sometimes only half a mile away, assessing the impacts of Highway 2 in Sonora. Learn more about our specific projects below.
Bridging barriers of all kinds, our Mexico Program is both leading and joining important efforts in Mexico to save wild places and the linkages that bind them. In Northwest Mexico we advocate to secure core biodiversity areas and to establish voluntary protections on parcels that can serve as stepping stones along major wildlife corridors. Meanwhile, our staff in Mexico City coordinates trailblazing coalitions that are shaping the environmental policy discourse, providing data and analysis in support of conservation legislation.
- Wildway Landscapes: We supports CONANP, Mexico’s federal parks agency by providing technical and field assistance to reinforce legal protections for Natural Protected Areas in Sonora. We also foster the conservation of private and communal lands by bringing expertise and resources to landowners interested in protecting their properties, while we continue to champion the creation of new federal protected areas.
- Road Ecology: We have built a strong case for wildlife crossings for jaguars and other species on two major corridors bisected by Highway 2 in the Sky Islands region of Sonora where, as a result of our research and advocacy, transportation authorities have recognized the need for wildlife underpasses in their plans for upgrading this major route. We continue to advise specific road projects that want to integrate wildlife crossings; and our staff continuously promotes a culture of wildlife crossings among the transportation community of Mexico.
- Partnerships: To support our partners in the frontlines of jaguar conservation in Sonora and Arizona we coordinate the Borderlands Linkages Initiative which helps coordinate the efforts of seven conservation groups on both states, and is generating the first regional databases of camera traps and restoration projects, while keeping shared records of jaguars updated and available to participating researchers. The Initiative’s series of maps bring together the collective knowledge of a large number of experts on both sides of the border, highlighting priorities and advancing a vision of transboundary conservation.
- Public Policy: Our staffers in Mexico City serve as facilitators for two of the most forward-thinking coalitions engaged in improving key environmental policies at the national level: The NOSSA partnership brings together groups from Northwest Mexico and provides them with learning opportunities and leverage to push for increased funding for Natural Protected Areas, while the Coalition to ban mining in Natural Protected Areas includes experts from across the country that inform and advocate for a series of bills making their way through Congress, that would ban future mining operations from taking hold within federal parks.
Header image courtesy Northern Jaguar Project and Naturalia