UNESCO has added Cozumel island in the Mexican Caribbean to its World Network of Biosphere reserves,a unique program that was created in the early 1970s as an intergovernmental scientific endeavor to improve relations worldwide between the people and their environment. According to Riviera Maya News,the process required more than two years of analysis and cooperation between the local government,UNESCO and a variety of multidisciplinary teams.
“The specialized multidisciplinary teams were formed by the Ministry of the Environment of the state (SEMA),the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) and included the UNESCO representative of Mexico.”
Cozumel Mayor Fredy Marrufo Martin told the Riviera Maya News that Cozumel received immense support from the state government and the director and representative of UNESCO Mexico. Quintana Roo state governor Roberto Borge Angulo also spoke up,showing his deep pride at the work being done in Cozumel to protect the environment and the fact that it is obviously paying off.
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“In Quintana Roo there are,as of today,26 protected natural areas of public character,of which 82 percent is under federal custody and 28 percent under guard of the state.”
According to the website,the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves covers more than 650 internationally designated protected areas as of 2015. In Mexico,Cozumel joins 12 existing locations already on this acclaimed list,including Sian Ka’an just south of Cozumel,Playa del Carmen and Tulum in Mexico’s Riviera Maya,as well as Calakmul,Montes Azules,El Triunfo,Sierra de Manantlan,Sierra Gorda,El Cielo,La Michilia,Mapimi,Alto Golfo de California,El Vizcaino and Islas del Golfo de California.
“Situated off the south-eastern coast of [Mexico],Cozumel Island encompasses diverse marine and terrestrial ecosystems rich in amphibian and reptile species,” UNESCO wrote in a press release. “The biosphere reserve forms part of the second largest reef system in the world,the Mesoamerican Reef,which is home to 1,192 [documented] marine species.”
Approximately 80,000 residents currently live within the new Cozumel biosphere reserve,mostly in the city of San Miguel,and the on-land ecosystem features medium semi-deciduous forests and mangroves,along with nearly 40 ancient Mayan sites.
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