Protecting biodiversity in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt

Project description

Title: Protecting biodiversity in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt (COBEN)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Mexico
Lead executing agency: Agencia Mexicana de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo; Technical counterpart: Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas
Overall term: 2014 to 2018



Nearly 30 million people live in the central part of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, the most densely populated region in Mexico. The major cities of Mexico City, Toluca and Cuernavaca lie in a high mountain range, along with a number of federal and state nature reserves. These protected areas and their neighbouring natural zones are under threat from legal and illegal settlements, legal and illegal logging, intensive land use and overexploitation of the soil. In addition, the temperate forests of the region form one of the country’s ecosystems most severely affected by climate change. This puts important environmental services at risk, in particular those that secure the supply of drinking water in the region. As a consequence, the protected areas are becoming increasingly fragmented and the natural resources more and more degraded.

Improved coordination between the different levels of government and individual sectors, with cohesive policies, strategies and programmes, should contribute to the better preservation of biodiversity in the region.


Public authorities, the private sector and citizens living in the megalopolis improve the conservation of biodiversity and environmental services in the green belt of the megacity and the central region of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt.



GIZ is working on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to support federal and state actors in Mexico’s environmental sector in improving the coordination of their policies to conserve biodiversity at regional level. The project assists conservation area authorities and other federal and state institutions to engage in and to improve coordination processes. Technical advisory bodies provide support in specific areas, such as environmental education and the management of protected areas. With the participation of civil society, they prepare recommendations on issues such as the sustainable use of natural resources, the management of protected areas and environmental monitoring. Moreover, the project strengthens the human resources and organisational capacities of the authorities with regard to participatory planning, project implementation and results monitoring.

To improve the planning, implementation and monitoring of existing funding programmes, the project collates information and makes it available in a systematic form. It coordinates procedures and develops standards to facilitate the exchange and joint use of data collected from various stakeholders. The aim is to set up an information portal providing knowledge about protected areas and biodiversity.

The activities targeting biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources are designed and implemented with the participation of the different actors and the affected population. The administrations of the protected areas and other relevant authorities receive assistance in drawing up criteria and guidelines for the results-oriented evaluation of the measures conducted. This improves the impact and economic efficiency of the funding programmes.

The consulting consortium GfA Consulting Group-IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) is supporting the measures geared to the sustainable use of natural resources.



Capacity development: The performance capacity and expertise of the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) and other key actors in the region have been strengthened in several on-the-job training courses, some of them long-term. Improved annual work plans for 16 protected areas are an example of the effectiveness of these training activities.

Knowledge management: The introduction of a georeferenced system for the digital registration of information, for instance pertaining to forest fires, pests and illegal logging in protected areas, has significantly improved the collection and evaluation of this information by park rangers. The system will in future be linked with a publicly accessible national information system for environmental data and will serve as a basis for decision-making and cost-benefit analyses at local and regional level.

Promotion of sustainable practices: Local conservation area authorities are now recognising opportunities to maintain and restore biodiversity thanks to pilot projects for sustainable livestock breeding in protected areas and neighbouring regions. They no longer view this as a threat. Government incentive payments are designed to encourage sustainable practices.

Improved interinstitutional cooperation: The project has helped to strengthen cooperation between CONANP and state environmental authorities in the region. For instance, a joint action plan for protecting endangered species is being implemented.

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