EcoValor Mx – Assessment of ecosystem services in natural protected areas

Project description

Title: EcoValor Mx – Assessment of ecosystem services in natural protected areas in Mexico
Commissioned by: Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU)
Country: Mexico
Partner organisation: Mexican National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP)
Overall term: 2013 to 2018

Mexico. Monarch butterfly  © GIZ


Ecosystems provide services which are essential to human development and economic activity. Changes in land use, urbanisation, industrialisation, excessive exploitation of natural resources, population growth and other factors have led to the overuse and depletion of these systems. These trends are being exacerbated by an imprecise definition of ownership rights and a lack of markets for ecosystem services. The assessment of ecosystem services is an innovative way to tackle these problems and complements the current range of instruments used for nature conservation.

Mexico has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world, ranking second in terms of the number of ecosystems and fourth in the diversity of its species. Among the various nature conservation policies implemented in the country, special priority has been given to the natural protected areas. They are a strategic and cost-effective instrument to combat the impacts of climate change, protect natural resources and biodiversity and maintain a healthy environment.

The Mexican National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) manages and protects Mexico’s natural heritage. The distribution of land ownership gives rise to both opportunities and challenges in this regard. The people living in the natural protected areas can derive more benefits if they can adopt sustainable lifestyles and be aware of the advantages.


Users, inhabitants and decision-makers recognise the value of the goods and ecosystem services that natural protected areas provide to society. The assessment of ecosystem services is developed and incorporated into public policies and economic instruments.


CONANP has expressed a strong interest in adopting ecosystem services assessment as a decision-making tool to protect biodiversity more effectively and improve management of natural protection areas. This approach not only encourages sustainable development, it also ensures that international commitments in this area are met.

Although many important ecosystem services emerge from natural protected areas, their value has not yet been quantified or systematised at institutional level. Therefore, under this initiative, studies will be conducted in representative pilot regions to obtain quantitative data on the benefits these services offer there. In addition, practical manuals will provide guidelines that can be used in the assessment processes.

The initiative also aims to effectively communicate the significance of the ecosystem services in the natural protected areas to raise general awareness for the protection of biodiversity and its value. These efforts will highlight the close relationship between human welfare and ecosystem services. Guidelines and information on investment decisions, public policies and local campaigns will be made available and actively incorporated into political processes.

Ecosystem services also play an important role in economic development. Their value, however, is not reflected in programmes and policies on social and economic development. Sometimes the goals of these programmes and policies even hinder the protection of ecosystem services and sustainable development. GIZ therefore advises and supports CONANP in disseminating information and positioning this issue. The assessment model, for example, is being integrated more into public policies, and platforms for dialogue and strategic alliances are being promoted.

In addition, by developing economic instruments for nature conservation, the value of ecosystem services can be reflected in public policy implementation using market and incentive mechanisms. These instruments can be used to prevent and contain certain destructive practices and market failure. At the same time, CONANP is supported in the design and implementation of innovative economic instruments, both for the land owners and the users of the ecosystem services. The instruments also make it possible for the Commission to introduce innovative processes for financial sustainability.

Finally, the project will contribute to developing procedures at national level which can be used to assess, estimate and record ecosystem services of the Mexican natural protected areas.

Mexico. Lobster fisherman  © GIZ

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