The Ría Celestún Biosphere Reserve is located in the northwest part of the Yucatán Península, in a coastal strip that includes the limits of the Campeche and Yucatán States. It encompasses coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico and includes important Ramsar-designated wetlands.
Ría Celestún Biosphere Reserve
The Ría Celestún Biosphere Reserve is located in the northwest part of the Yucatán Península, in a coastal strip that includes the limits of the Campeche and Yucatán States.
It is limited to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by the El Palmar National Reserve and the south by Los Petenes National Biosphere Reserve.
Ría Celestún encompasses coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico and includes essential wetlands designated under the Ramsar Wetlands Convention. The biosphere reserve occupies approximately 25% of the Petenes Mangrove ecoregion.
The importance of the Biosphere Reserve is partly because freshwater from underground aquifers has an outlet in the site, making the Biosphere Reserve a unique example of a natural wetland in the area.
Ría Celestún is characterized by large habitat diversity in a relatively small area and includes several interdependent ecosystems that constitute critical habitats for many species. These include:
- a marine shallow continental platform
- coastal dunes
- coastal saline and freshwater lagoons
- flood meadows
- low flood forest
- low semi-deciduous forest
The area includes 304 resident and migratory birds constituted by coastal and marshland birds such as herons (Ardeidae), ducks (Anatidae), and gulls.
Ría Celestún and Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserves are critical areas for the flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) that nest, feed and reproduce here and whose population reaches 23,000 birds.
Other bird species include the threatened plumbeous kite (Ictinia plumbea) and Brent goose (Branta bernicla), the endangered Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata), and piping plover (Charadrius melodus).
The area is also important as a nesting site for the endangered sea turtles hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta).
Threatened or endangered mammal species include the jaguar (Panthera onca), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), and Northern tamandua (Tamandua mexicana).
Ría Celestún was decreed a Natural Protected Area in 2000, with the objectives to legally conserve and protect the biological and cultural diversity and the ecological goods and services of the ecosystem in the area.
Among the priorities of the Biosphere Reserve are the management and regulation of anthropogenic activities and the promotion of sustainable development of natural resources, which allows for improving the quality of life of the communities and conserving biodiversity. Some 6,700 people live in the buffer zone.
Currently, Celestún is the second fishing producer in the State of Yucatán and one of the localities with the greater population increase in the region.
Three main productive activities are developed in the Biosphere Reserve: fishery, salt extraction, and tourist services.