Nahá-Metzabok Biosphere Reserve (Mexico)

Nahá-Metzabok Biosphere Reserve (Mexico)

Fri, 05/20/2022 - 16:27
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The Nahá-Metzabok Biosphere Reserve is located in southeastern Mexico, in the state of Chiapas. Located in the northeastern Chiapas Highlands, the reserve protects montane rainforests, pine-oak forests, and natural lakes within the Lacandón Forest region.

Nahá-Metzabok Biosphere Reserve

The Nahá-Metzabok Biosphere Reserve is located in southeastern Mexico, in the state of Chiapas. Located in the northeastern Chiapas Highlands, the reserve protects montane rainforests, pine-oak forests, and natural lakes within the Lacandón Forest region.

The total surface area of the Biosphere Reserve is 43,362 ha (107,150 acres). The reserve protects two separate flora and fauna protection areas, Metzabok and Nahá, and a buffer zone around them:

  • Metzabok Flora and Fauna Protection Area: 3,368 ha (8,322 acres)
  • Nahá Flora and Fauna Protection Area (located to the southeast of Metzabok): 3,847 ha (9,506 acres)

The Biosphere Reserve is in the transition zone between the Lacandón foothills and montane cloud forests, and the pine-oak forests of the Chiapas Highlands.

Physiology

Physiographically, the Nahá-Metzabok Biosphere Reserve exhibits a plain-hill-plateau sequence, the result of a karstification process, composed of parallel folded ranges of hills extending from northwest to southeast, with altitudes ranging from 840 m (2,750 ft) asl on the plains to 1,280 m (4,200 ft) asl on the plateaus.

The underlying geology is principally limestone. Water has dissolved the porous limestone, creating caverns, sinkholes, and sinkhole lakes (cenotes).

Some of the lakes are isolated, while others have underground connections with each other and/or surface rivers and streams. Metzabok's lake system includes 21 lakes of different sizes, most of which are interconnected when the water level is high.

The Nahá and Metzabok lake systems are connected, forming a closed basin. Metzabok's lake system includes 21 lakes of different sizes, most of which are interconnected when the water level is high.

Lake Nahá is a karstic lake in a mountain basin. The Nahá River drains northwards from Lake Nahá towards the Metzabok lakes. The Nahá River is the principal surface tributary, although the lakes may have additional subsurface inflows.

Metzabok's lake system includes 21 lakes of different sizes, most of which are interconnected when the water level is high. The Nahá River is the principal surface tributary, although the lakes may have additional subsurface inflows.

Climate

The reserve has a tropical rainforest climate. The mean annual temperature is above 22º C (71.6° F). The average yearly rainfall is 2,500 mm (98 in), which falls mostly between May and October.

Flora and Fauna

The lower montane rainforest is located at 400 - 800 m (1,300 - 2,600 ft) elevation, including around Lake Nahá. Characteristic trees include Brosimum alicastrum, Guatteria spp., Hirtella americana, Licania hypoleuca, Spondias radlkoferi, Terminalia amazonia, Virola koshnii, and Guarea spp.

Pine-oak forest grows on the ridges, characterized by species of pine (Pinus) and oak (Quercus), with Carpinus caroliniana, Myrica cerifera, Styrax argenteus, and species of alder (Alnus) and walnut (Juglans).

Karstic sinkholes and lakes create distinctive wetland habitats, which are recognized by the reserve's Ramsar designation. Approximately 40,000 plant and animal species live in the Reserve. These include 48% of Mexico's bird species, 33% of bats, 11% of reptiles and 25% of mammals.

Socio-Economic Characteristics

The Nahá-Metzabok region is home to three ethnic groups, the Maya-Lacandón, Tzeltals and Choles. The first group that has inhabited the Selva Lacandona region since ancestral times is considered to be the Lacandón indigenous group that remained in isolation for a long period of time in the forest.

It is important to note that they are located in the core zones of Nahá-Metzabok, within the sub-communities of Nahá and Puerto Bello Metzabok, two of the five sub-communities that comprise the Communal Goods of the Lacandón Forest. Their land tenure regime is of a communal type and within this regime, the Government recognizes the rights over a land area of a specific group of applicants.

In the transition zone, land tenure is of the ejido-type. In this type of legal regime, the Government grants land tenure to a specific group of applicants. Additionally, the Tzeltal and Chole people are estimated at 6,500 inhabitants living in the buffer and transition zones, under the ejidotype land tenure regime.