TULUM, Quintana Roo – In a landmark decree published in the Official Gazette of the Federation (DOF), the Mexican government has announced its commitment to safeguard one of the world’s largest and most significant karst aquifers. This initiative aims to protect the region’s vast underground network, encompassing over 2,000 kilometers of subterranean passages, with particular emphasis on the Sac Actun and Ox Bel Ha cave systems. The latter is renowned as one of Quintana Roo’s most extensive underwater cave systems, and it is within this extraordinary environment that vulnerable flood-prone areas have also been identified.
The Jaguar Biosphere Reserve provides a habitat for an astonishing 982 species, including 17 fungi, 400 vascular plants, 362 vertebrates, and 203 invertebrates. These recorded figures only scratch the surface of the diverse array of organisms found within this unique sanctuary. Notably, the reserve harbors nine plant species and 81 animal species listed for protection under the Official Mexican Standard NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010.
Seven distinct vegetation types have been identified in the region: high or medium semi-evergreen rainforest, which accounts for 48% of the site’s coverage, high evergreen rainforest, low subdeciduous rainforest, medium subevergreen rainforest-Tasistal, mangrove, sibal, and secondary growth of high or medium semi-evergreen rainforest. This remarkable diversity underscores the ecological richness of the area.
While the Jaguar Biosphere Reserve holds immense potential for tourism, it is crucial that any activities pursued align with sustainable practices and uphold the conservation of its natural heritage. By adopting a long-term perspective, it is possible to minimize the impacts on the surrounding environment, improve the well-being of nearby communities, and ensure the preservation and enhancement of the site’s pristine condition.
What activities are strictly prohibited within the Jaguar Biosphere Reserve?
- Dumping or discharging pollutants, such as glyphosate, into the soil, subsoil, waterways, basins, or aquifers. Any contaminating activities are strictly prohibited.
- Interrupting, filling, draining, or diverting hydraulic flows.
- Engaging in hunting, aquaculture, or exploitation of wild flora and fauna species, as well as extracting topsoil or vegetation cover.
- Introducing exotic, invasive, or genetically modified organisms that could be detrimental to wildlife.
- Changing land use.
- Using explosives.
- Harassing, disturbing, or causing harm to any wild plant or animal species.
- Altering or destroying feeding, nesting, refuge, or breeding sites of wildlife through any means or actions.
- Conducting mining exploration or exploitation activities.
- Establishing material banks, extracting stone, or collecting construction materials.
- Initiating fires or lighting campfires.
- Any other activities regulated by the General Laws of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection, Wildlife, and other applicable legal provisions.
By stringently enforcing these prohibitions, the Mexican government aims to preserve the integrity of the Jaguar Biosphere Reserve and safeguard its remarkable ecological treasures for generations to come. Through a collective effort, we can ensure the continued existence of this extraordinary habitat and protect the delicate balance of nature.