PROMOTING CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION AND ADAPTATION STRATEGIES

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The National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) is responsible for the protection of natural areas such as The Metztitlán Canyon, to ensure environmental conservation as Mexico continues its economic growth. As part of CONANP´s strategy for the mitigation and adaptation to climate change to protect wildlife, environmental education activities promote citizen participation in studying, monitoring and developing strategies to understand and adapt to climate change. To strengthen the capacity of CONANP’s environmental education program, Peace Corps and USAID provided support and funding to assist community members in designing and implementing a school-wide environmental fair that inspired teachers and students to study and protect birds against the increasing effects of climate change and promote mitigation and adaptation strategies to protect biodiversity.

Students participate in  an activity where they learn about soil conservation to protect natural habitats for birds:

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The environmental fair was implemented with the participation of 150 people from the elementary school of San Cristobal, Metztitlán, Hidalgo. Funding was used to purchase materials for the fair’s activities, produce card games, posters and pamphlets focused on climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. Funding was also used to  purchase binoculars for the observation of birds and other vulnerable wildlife.  A survey completed by teachers from the participating school noted that 8 teachers and 142 students showed increased knowledge in climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. Teachers were appreciative of the opportunity for their students to learn about a new topic and shared comments such as, “The students learned through a fun manner with the activities. The materials used allowed the students to learn better and it was a good strategy by the coordinators.” CONANP was eager to produce the educational materials for the fair and will be using the materials to design and implement similar fairs in other schools and communities, therefore strengthening their capacity to implement education programs addressing climate change. Part of the resources produced-posters, pamphlets, card games and binoculars-remained with the participating school. Teachers will use the materials in their classroom activities, for field visits and to replicate the fair with future students.

Students learn about the importance of protecting The Metztitlán Lake, an internationally recognized RAMSAR site and important habitat for migratory birds:

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Feria ambiental para promover estrategias de mitigación y adaptación al cambio climático para la protección de la biodiversidad

La Comisión Nacional de las Áreas Naturales Protegidas es la agencia gubernamental responsable para la protección de áreas naturales tales como La Reserva de la Biosfera Barranca de Metztitlán en Hidalgo, México. Como parte de la estrategia para la mitigación y adaptación al cambio climático para la protección de la vida silvestre, CONANP implementa actividades de educación ambiental donde el público participa en el estudio, monitoreo y desarrollo de estrategias para entender y adaptar al cambio climático. Para fortalecer el programa de educación ambiental, Peace Corps y USAID provinieron apoyo y recursos financiaros para que los miembros de la comunidad junto con la CONANP diseñáran e implementáran una feria ambiental escolar. El objetivo fue inspirar a maestros y estudiantes en estudiar y proteger aves de las consecuencias del cambio climático y promover estrategias de mitigación y adaptación para proteger la biodiversidad.

Estudiantes aprenden sobre la conservación de los suelos y hábitat natural para la sobrevivencia de las varias especies de aves:

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Participaron 150 personas de la primaria de San Cristóbal, Metztitlán, Hidalgo. Usando los fondos, se elaboraron juegos educativos, posters y folletos enfocados en el tema de cambio climático. Además, compramos binoculares para la observación de aves. Hicimos una encuesta con los maestros y aprendimos que había un aumento en el conocimiento de 8 maestros y 142 estudiantes. Los maestros se sintieron agradecidos por la oportunidad para ellos y sus alumnos en aprender sobre un nuevo tema en una manera divertida. Compartieron el comentario de que “Los estudiantes aprendieron a través de una manera divertida con las actividades. Los materiales les ayudaron a aprender mejor y fue una buena estrategia para los coordinadores.”

CONANP usará los materiales para implementar aún más ferias en otras escuelas y comunidades. Eso fortalecerá su capacidad de implementar programas de cambio climático para educar al público.  Una parte de los recursos-posters, folletos, juegos y binoculares quedaron en la primaria de San Cristóbal. Los maestros los usarán para actividades del salón, días de campo y replicar ferias similares con futuros estudiantes.

Estudiantes aprenden sobre la importancia del sitio RAMSAR, La Laguna de Metztitlán, para las aves migratorias con la Ingeniera Nely Rivera:

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El Viejo Cactus

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EL VIEJO CACTUS

Un empresario a los 26 años, Ángel Daniel Balderrama Cabrera tiene un negocio de un vivero con su familia, donde venden una variedad de especies de cactus. Ubicado en Las Pilas, Metztitlán, Hidalgo, El Viejo Cactus está ubicado dentro del área natural protegida, Reserva de la Biosfera Barranca de Metztitlán. Para proteger las especias silvestres de cactáceas, la CONANP apoya a los comerciantes como Daniel y su familia con financiamiento y capacitación técnica. Con ese apoyo, junto con programas de educación ambiental y monitoreo, han reducido la extracción de plantas endémicas y en riesgo. Ahora la gente puede evitar extraer plantas silvestres y comprar en un vivero como El Viejo Cactus, conservando el medio ambiente y apoyando a la comunidad para llevar a cabo proyectos productivos y sostenibles.

Cactus en venta en El Viejo Cactus
Rango de precios 15-250 pesos cada planta

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Mammillaria shiedeana (residente)

Este fin de semana, el 2 y 3 de junio 2016, El Viejo Cactus celebrará 12 años de negocio. Visítalo y aprender más sobre la biodiversidad de la Reserva de la Biosfera Barranca de Metztitlán y otros especies de cactus.

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EL VIEJO CACTUS

An entrepreneur at 26, Angel Daniel Balderrama Cabrera runs a small greenhouse with his family where they sell a variety of cacti. Located in Las Pilas, Metztitlán, Hidalgo, El Viejo Cactus is located within the federally protected zone of the Metztitlán Canyon Reserve. I work with the government agency responsible for protecting the region, CONANP, which is how I know Daniel. As an effort to protect wild species of cacti in the zone, CONANP promotes businesses such as El Viejo Cactus. By providing financial and technical training support to people such as Daniel and his family (in addition to rigorous monitoring and environmental education programs), the rate of illegal extraction of endemic cacti species has reduced significantly.

Cacti that can be purchased from El Viejo Cactus
Prices range from 15-250 mexican pesos per plant

Mammillaria shiedeana

Mammillaria shiedeana (resident)

This weekend, On July 2 and 3, El Viejo Cactus is celebrating 12 years of business and the local public is invited. If you are in the area, please come out and support them and learn something about local biodiversity.

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Los Viejitos

Get to know Cephalocereus senilis, commonly known as Los Viejitos 

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Photograph taken by Selene Leonardo Verde.

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Los viejitos at the botanical garden in Metztitlan, Hidalgo.

I have to say, before coming to the state of Hidalgo in Mexico, I had never given cacti their much deserved respect. They are pretty cool. The federally protected zone of the Metztitlan Canyon is home to over 60 species of cacti, one of which is cephalocereus senilis, or commonly known as los viejitos. Los viejitos translates to “old guys” in English. Why old guys? Not only are they covered with white hairs to protect them from the sun, but they grow approximately just 2 cm per year. From the photographs above you can see that they are at least a couple hundred years old.

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Baby viejitos. Yea I know, oxymoron. (Photograph taken by Selene Leonardo Verde).

Unfortunately, not a lot of people (including locals) are aware of how slowly viejitos grow, and because there always seemed to be an abundance of them in the area, extracting one from the wild was thought to be no big deal… it WAS a big deal.

Viejitos are an endemic species, meaning that they are found in just few parts of the world and nowhere else. I have learned quite a bit about these guys from my coworkers at CONANP (equivalent to the US National Park Service), who are responsible for educating the public about the species, as it is now endangered. In Metztitlan, Hidalgo, there is a botanical garden where the general public can visit and view los viejitos up close (in addition to just walking up the hills, which is a good hike.) The benefit of visiting the garden is that it is safe for children and contains a diverse group of species in a small area.

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Community members visit the botanical garden. (Photograph taken by Selene Leonardo Verde):

I am grateful for the privilege to live in an area where I get to these guys every day. If you ever happen to visit Mexico, don’t miss out on the chance either.

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