National Forest Commission Assigns Over 3.9 Million Pesos to IUCN Cahoacán II Project in Mexico to Support Payment for Environmental Services Program

15 February 2013 | News story

With the sponsorship of Fundación Gonzalo Río Arronte I. A. P. and the support of Sociedad de Historia Natural del Soconusco, IUCN is carrying out the project entitled, “Management of the Cahoacán River Basin, Chiapas, Mexico, through Conservation and Restoration of Microwatersheds to Prevent Damages Caused by Excess Water”.

Chiapas, Mexico, February 2013 (IUCN). At an official ceremony held in Cacahoatán municipal central park and attended by Ejido Commissariats, beneficiaries of the different ejidos, NGOs and representatives of municipal, state and federal institutions, an agreement was signed between Mexico’s National Forest Commission (Spanish acronym CONAFOR) and the IUCN regional office for Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean, setting in motion local payment for environmental services mechanisms through a matching funds program in the Cahoacán river basin.

The event was presided by Ramón Pérez Gil Salcido, Coordinator of the Water Program of Fundación Gonzalo Río Arronte I.A.P.; Rocío Córdoba, Coordinator of the IUCN Livelihoods and Climate Change Unit; Paola Baucher, Deputy Manager of Finance and Demand Mechanisms at CONAFOR; Juan Antonio Sandoval, CONAFOR State Manager in Chiapas; Uriel Pérez, Municipal President of the Cacahoatán City Council; Dr. Mario Hernández, Municipal President of the Tuxtla Chico City Council and Carlos Morales, representing the Municipal President of Tapachula City.

Signature of the agreement will make available a fund of more than eight million pesos, of which IUCN will contribute four million thanks to the sponsorship of Fundación Gonzalo Río Arronte I.A.P. These resources will be used to protect more than 3900 ha of forests and agroforestry systems, directly benefitting over 2300 landowners in the Cacahotán and Tuxtla Chico municipalities and more than 12000 indirect beneficiaries in the watershed of the Cahoacán River, with the great environmental benefits deriving from restoration, conservation, protection and sustainable management of the local ecosystems.

This agreement represents a unique example in Mexico, since payment for environmental services establishes the connection between sustainable livelihoods and ecosystem management by creating effective mechanisms based in local organizations located in the buffer zone of mesophile forests in the Cahoacán river basin, the only ones that have been included in the CONAFOR programs.
What makes this agreement especially relevant, however, is the inclusion of new areas providing hydrological services, previously not a priority in the national PES program despite their high value for water production in the watershed.

Signature of the agreement signifies a major contribution toward maintaining the provision of ecosystem goods and services. In particular, it will have a very positive effect on aquifer recharge, which is essential for ensuring supply of freshwater to the different ejidos in the intervention zone of the Cahoacán II project. River flows, springs and streams there have declined as a consequence of climate variability and change, with serious impacts on inhabitants’ livelihoods.

In addition, Cahoacán Project Phase II is expected to reduce basin residents’ vulnerability to the effects of climate change, strengthen their adaptation capacities (at the community-ejido, municipal and watershed levels) and improve their abilities to mitigate damages from atypical hydrometeorological events, through improvement in livelihoods.

To achieve these objectives, IUCN applies the model of participatory planning and comprehensive community water management under a microwatershed approach. The model consists of integrated management of the Cahoacán river basin through territorial intervention based on strategic microwatersheds, with social, technical, environmental, economic, institutional and political aspects prioritized in a management plan.

The use of management plans will enable real interinstitutional and multisectoral coordination facilitating the integration of efforts and the participation of all local actors in a single direction and with an overall approach. This will make it possible to promote comprehensive rural development and inclusion of these aspects in municipal development plans, while also preventing duplicity of efforts. Altogether, this results in an instrument for social, economic and environmental development in these territories.

For more information contact:

Carlos R. Rosal Del Cid
Regional Officer
Livelihoods and Climate Change Unit
IUCN Regional Office for Mesoamerica and the Caribbean Initiative
Phones: 00502-5966-6957 and 00502-5918-0317