Ecológico Sierra Gorda emerged in 1987 from the concerns of a small group
of local citizens worried about the rapid depletion of the natural resources of the Sierra
Gorda and the urgent need to carry out recycling, reforestation and environmental
The organization was initiated from the grass roots up, and
has actively involved local people in a wide range of conservation works. The Grupo
Ecológico has gained the trust of these citizens as well as the protection of the Sierra
Gorda Biosphere Reserve, which was decreed by the federal government in 1997. The
Grupo Ecológico has received national and international recognition for its work.
The Grupo Ecológico´s success led to the approval in 2000 of an
ambitious seven-year project (2001-2007) -
Biodiversity Conservation in the Sierra
Gorda Biosphere Reserve - financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) with
a $6.7 million U.S. leverage fund. The Grupo Ecológico is generating an additional $25
million in co-financing and associated financing in cooperation with a wide range of
United Nations Development Program
administrative agency of the GEF for this project, while the
of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) is the national executing agency. The
Biosphere Reserve directors office implements basic conservation and enforcement
activities, while the Grupo Ecológico and its NGO ally Bosque Sustentable, A.C.
implement the bulk of the conservation and sustainable use programs in the field.
The Grupo Ecológico has formal
co-management responsibilities for the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, established by
written agreement with CONANP, making the Reserve the first natural protected area in the
country to be managed by different parties.
For 17 years, the Grupo Ecológico has been cultivating regional
sustainability through recycling, community improvement, restoration, productive
diversification, training, natural resource management, inter-institutional coordination,
fund raising and other activities.
Community environmental education has been the
principal engine for the creation of new attitudes, habits and actions. More than 20,000
serranos participate in different conservation projects and measures, including
community education networks, recycling centers, community ecotourism, civil surveillance
brigades, and forest fire volunteer brigades. All these projects have been made possible
thanks to an organized civil society participating in developing solutions to local
The Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve is an example of governing from
the bottom up. Regional development objectives were established through years of intense
consensus building and extensive promotion of the regulations and zoning officially
published in the Reserves management program. This document was
developed by the Grupo Ecológico at the request of the National Institute of Ecology
(INE) because of the Grupo Ecológico´s extensive experience and knowledge of the area.
Numerous communities utilize the management program to establish favorable social
conditions for regional development and to protect and restore natural resources,
including forests, waters, soils and biodiversity.
Besides receiving several awards and recognitions, the Grupo
Ecológico was recently accepted as the 1,000th member of the prestigious World
Conservation Union (UICN).