Cities with Biodiversity: Lots More Than Pets
Biodiversity is not only an issue of woodlands, rainforests and fields; big cities can also have an intense concentration of flora and fauna, semi hidden behind avenues, neon signs and housing complexes, that forces governments and citizens to protect it.
What else is there in Mexican cities, besides dogs and cats?
The largest and most populated city in the country has 59 percent conservation land, with rural and mountainous areas. According to a study that will soon be out, La biodiversidad en la Ciudad de México. Estudio de Estado (Biodiversity in Mexico City. State Study), there are 6,809 species in the metropolis: 609 protozoans, 334 fungi, 2,234 plants, 3,098 invertebrates and 534 vertebrates.
Some of the species living in the Mexico City are endemic, such as the silversides and Chapultepec split fin fish that inhabit the wetlands in Xochimilco; the ajolote (mole salamander),the Tláloc’s leopard frog, the sierra madre sparrow and the volcano rabbit.
Among the flora, the biznaguita (small barrel cactus) that grows in the Pedregal de San Ángel area, in southern Mexico City, is endemic, as are red dahlias, hairy Mexican butterfly bushes, sacred firs, Mexican ashes, junipers and pulque magueys.
Mexico City has three major lungs: the Chapultepec, San Juan de Aragón and Tlalpan parks, and three Environmental Education Centers (CEA), which are Acuexcomatl, in Xochimilco; Ecoguardas, in Tlalpan and Yautlica, in Iztapalapa and Tláhuac, plus the Chapultepec and the UNAM Biology Institute botanical gardens
The Biodiversity in Mexico City study is a report prior to the creation of a Strategy and Action Plan for Conservation and Sustainable Use of Mexico City’s Biodiversity.
The country’s industrial city has a powerful ecological green lung, in which the region’s biodiversity is safeguarded and conserved: Cumbres de Monterrey National Park.
This natural protected area has nearly 500,000 acres and encompasses portions of the municipalities of Montemorelos, Santa Catarina, Rayones, Allende, Santiago, San Pedro Garza García and, of course, Monterrey. Within its huge expanse are emblematic spots such as Cerro de la Silla (Saddleback Mountain), Cascada de la Cola de Caballo (Horsetail Waterfall) and Chipinque Ecological Park.
The area has such vegetal communities as conifer forests, chaparrals, both desert and mountain scrublands and woodlands, and it boastssome1,300 species of flora and fauna.
Not only is it the nesting place for the thick-billed parrot, it is on the monarch butterfly’s migratory route, and they make a reststop here. There are shrews, bats, coyotes, skunks, rodents, felines such as margays, pumas and ocelots, and black bears.
Outstanding among the areas within Cumbres Park is the Chipinquepine and oak forest, with its 100 bird and 30 mammal species and variety of amphibians and reptiles. Research and biodiversity preservation projects are carried out here.
The largest city in western Mexican is so rich in flora and fauna it has been called “the magic circle”. The metropolitan area (encompassing eight municipalities) embraces arid scrublands, tropical forests, pasture lands and temperate forests.
Among such contrasting ecosystems is a great variety of flora, such as Michoacan pines, oaks, sweet-gum trees, Mexican ashes, willows, poincianas, jacarandas, orchids and roses.
Guadalajara’s fauna includes about 106 species of mammals, 19 of reptiles and sixof fish.
Guadalajara has several natural green lungs: Primavera Park (to the west), Los Colomos (adjacent to Zapopan) and Barranca de Huentitlán or Barranca de Oblatos (to the north).
Efforts by the government and civil society include reforestation, such as Bosque Primavera Park, where over 41,000 trees have been planted on close to 210 acres, while at Los Colomos, locals have managed to impede urbanization projects that affected the park, one of the metropolitan area’s major green areas.
How do you help to care for your city’s biodiversity?