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July 20, 2017

WILDCOAST Conserves 18.7 Miles of Coastline in Bahia Magdalena


WILDCOAST conserved 18.7 miles of coastline along Bahia Magdalena, Mexico through a federal conservation concession that was approved on June 27. To date WILDCOAST and the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) have protected 292 miles of ZOFEMAT* and 3,706 acres of mangroves in this critical area that serves as a gray whale breeding ground and is home to the largest mangrove forest in the Baja California Peninsula.    

In Mexico, ZOFEMAT is the designated federal maritime land zone which is defined as the first 20-meters after the mean-high tide line. ZOFEMAT is a transition area between sea and land, important for many priority species and ecological processes. For example, in areas of Oaxaca, ZOFEMAT areas help protect important nesting sites for millions of sea turtles.

WILDCOAST has partnered with CONANP since 2009, successfully reaching conservation agreements for the protection of these coastal zones in many of Mexico’s natural protected areas, Ramsar Sites and conservation priority regions.

Conservation concessions are an excellent tool to protect sites of great ecological importance that do not have any other conservation status. This is the case for the area of Bahia Magdalena located along the Pacific coast of the Baja California Peninsula. This area has the largest mangrove forest on the entire Baja peninsula, but only the barrier islands around the bay is a protected area as part of the Islands of the Pacific Biosphere Reserve.

This conservation strategy gives the coastal zone opportunities to defend against latent threats they face due to poorly planned development. The expansion of agriculture and aquaculture, as well as unsustainable tourism developments, are now limited by these conservation concessions. Additionally, it's also a great tool to help defend the sensitive ecosystems and coastal communities against the threat of coastal storms, flooding and helps to adapt to sea level rise.  The next step in these conservation efforts is management, and WILDCOAST and CONANP are already working on initiatives that include guidelines and manuals for staff in charge of monitoring and managing these concessions.