Since 2003 GVI Mexico has been working in partnership with Amigos de Sian Ka’an, a local nongovernmental organization (NGO) and the oldest in the state of Quintana Roo. Since 1986 Amigos de Sian Ka’an has been carrying on different programmes to preserve the natural resources of the state. Their aim is to conserve biodiversity by promoting and influencing the culture and environmental policies based on science. One of their first projects was to promote the establishment of Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve as it is now. So far, together with other organizations, they have managed to preserve 1,000, 000 hectares by buying land in key areas in the Yucatan Peninsula and lobbying the creation of protected areas, which is also contributing to the Mesoamerican Biological corridor.
Recently, after many years of work, in September 2012 the National Protected Areas Commission (CONANP) established, by Mexican presidential decree, a new protected area covering almost 38,000 hectares (94,000 acres) of wetland, coastal, and marine ecosystems in Cozumel Island, Quintana Roo (fig.1&2). This accomplishment significantly benefits the conservation of numerous endemic species and subspecies, the well preserved local ecosystems, the Mesoamerican Reef, and the island’s population with the high ecotourism potential of Cozumel.
This fundamental step for Quintana Roo’s sustainable development was possible because of Cozumel society and fishing cooperatives commitment, the agreements among the municipal government, the state government (that formally protected 19,000 hectares, 47,000 acres of forests and wetlands in Cozumel) with CONANP, as well as the interest of the State Water Commission.
Many members of Amigos de Sian Ka’an participated in making this declaration possible. Amigos de Sian Ka’an participation in this project was possible because of the support from the North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA), The Nature Conservancy, the Summit Foundation through the Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative (MARTI), and ASK own funds generated with the generosity of their benefactors.