New Natural Protected Areas in Mexico

Sea Turtles

Last year, on August 22, 13 new Natural Protected Areas (NPAs) were declared in Mexico. Just a few months later, on January 8, an additional 20 were announced! 

These new NPAs represent a significant step toward a major conservation achievement. The next crucial steps involve ensuring sufficient budgets for their comprehensive management and updating the management plans for both the new and existing PNAs. 

Here’s some information about a few of the new PNAs that could have an incredible impact on conserving various species and ecosystems in Mexico of global importance:

National Park Marine Zone of Isla Isabel (PNMZII)

This park adds a marine zone to the existing Isla Isabel National Park (IINP), which previously protected only the island’s terrestrial (land) area. Encompassing over 78,000 acres, the new park will contribute to the protection of 382 invertebrate species, 14 coral species, 223 fish species, 12 mammal species, and 50 bird species. The declaration of PNMZII aims to improve fishing practices and support marine surveillance to combat illegal fishing in the area.

Previously, the marine zone of Isla Isabel National Park lacked a protection decree, so conservation agreements were made with fishermen to establish no-fishing zones to safeguard wildlife in the area. 

In collaboration with IINP staff, WILDCOAST has been monitoring coral reefs in Isla Isabel since 2018, assessing the ecosystem’s health, participating in coral restoration campaigns, supporting community marine surveillance, and promoting community development through workshops in the San Blas and Boca de Camichin communities.

National Park Huatulco II

This new Protected Natural Area expands the coastal zone of the existing Huatulco National Park, which primarily focuses on the marine environment. 

The declaration of this National Park contributes to the conservation of Oaxaca’s coastline, the most biodiverse state in Mexico. However, its coastal ecosystems have experienced a 53% loss from 1985 to 2021, primarily due to tourism and economic development without environmental considerations. 

Covering 5,527 acres, Huatulco National Park II aims to prevent unchecked tourism development that could harm this globally significant ecosystem.

National Park Loreto II

Encompassing 15,362 acres, this new National Park is an important coastal-marine transition zone. 

It harbors a wealth of species, including 54 endemic plant species from Mexico and 40 endemic to Baja California Sur. In terms of animals, this park represents 4% of all the biodiversity in Baja California Sur. The park provides crucial ecosystem services, especially water capture, vital for a drought-prone region. 

This new decree will aid in the conservation of these species, prevent water-related issues, and monitor and regulate the impacts of tourism in the area.

Cahuitan Beach Sanctuary and Barra de la Cruz-Playa Grande Sanctuary

These two new sanctuaries are located on two of the four priority nesting beaches for the leatherback sea turtle in the Mexican Pacific. The leatherback sea turtle is the most endangered species of marine turtle, making the declaration of these sanctuaries globally significant for their preservation! 

Furthermore, both sanctuaries include wetlands designated as Ramsar sites, contributing to the conservation of three types of mangroves: red, white, and buttonwood.

Morro Ayuta Beach Sanctuary

Morro Ayuta Beach hosts the nesting of one million olive ridley sea turtles each year, resulting in the birth of over five million hatchlings. This makes Morro Ayuta the second most important nesting beach for olive ridley sea turtles globally, second only to La Escobilla, also in Oaxaca. 

It is one of the ten beaches worldwide where the arribada phenomenon occurs, with thousands of turtles coming ashore simultaneously to lay their eggs. WILDCOAST has been supporting the conservation of this beach since 2005 through monitoring, invasive species control, and environmental education in nearby communities, especially in Río Seco.