The Island of Cozumel formally became part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves on the weekend following its approval last month by the International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Situated off the southeastern coast of Mexico, Cozumel Island encompasses diverse marine and terrestrial ecosystems rich in amphibian and reptile species. The main terrestrial ecosystems are medium semi-deciduous forests and mangroves.
The biosphere reserve forms part of the second largest reef system in the world, the Mesoamerican Reef, which is home to 1,192 marine species. Nearly 80,000 people live in the biosphere reserve, mainly in the city of San Miguel.
The head of Sedatu, the Secretariat of Agrarian Development and Urban Planning, said inclusion in the reserves network “represents an opportunity to make [the island] a national model for territorial planning that prioritizes sustainable growth and protection of its biodiversity.”
Rosario Robles said that Cozumel will be able to “promote the harmony between humankind and nature and the natural and archaeological riches that distinguish it as heritage of all the people of Mexico.”
The island has close to 40 Mayan archaeological sites.
The Man and the Biosphere Program was created by UNESCO in the early 1970s as an intergovernmental scientific endeavor to improve relations between people around the world and their natural environment.
Biosphere reserves are intended to be places for learning about sustainable development and reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with the sustainable use of natural resources.
Mexico News Daily