The Sierra La Laguna Biosphere Reserve comprises dry forests within the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range in Mexico's Baja California Peninsula. It is the most critical reproduction site for the primary hummingbird species of Mexico and Latin America.
Sierra La Laguna Biosphere Reserve
The Sierra La Laguna Biosphere Reserve comprises dry forests within the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range, part of the Peninsular Ranges System in the southern part of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula.
With a total area of 112,436 ha (277,835 acres), the core area of the Biosphere Reserve comprises 32,519 ha (80,356 acres), and the buffer zones comprise 79,917 ha (197,479 acres).
These temperate woodlands host a unique level of biodiversity. Its dry forests are mostly covered with pine-oak and oak woodlands, with adjacent low, medium deciduous forests that are an essential habitat for tropical species.
The Sierra La Laguna Biosphere Reserve area constitutes a vegetation "island" amid arid surroundings, which provides a substantial level of endemism. Endemic species include the Palo extraño (Ilex brandegeana) and the Manzanita (I. californica).
Between August and October, this area is the most critical reproduction site for the primary hummingbird species of Mexico and Latin America, such as Costa's hummingbird (Calypte costae) and Xantus' hummingbird (Hylocharis xantusii). The latter is endemic to the region.
The 42 native mammal species in the Biosphere Reserve represent 70% of the fauna in Southern Baja California, although it is also essential for resident and migrating birds. Of the mammal species found in the region, roughly 40% are endemic, such as Osgood's mouse (Peromyscus gratus).
The Sierra La Laguna Biosphere Reserve is also a significant hydrological reservoir for the region. According to Mexico's National Water Commission (CONAGUA), six regional basins are formed.
The preservation of this region is critical for securing safe water sources for the local population. Located in the fringes of a desert with low precipitation rates (0 - 400 mm (0 - 16 in) annually), the average precipitation of the entire region is 700 mm (28 in).
With less than 600 native inhabitants, the local economy is based on small-scale agriculture with little environmental impact and intensive and extensive stock farming. Other activities include beekeeping and the production of local products, like sweets and charcuterie, among others. However, mega-mining projects constantly threaten the region, mainly for gold.
Ecotourism is a growing activity, although the numbers remain relatively low. For example, the Biosphere Reserve hosts approximately 1,340 national and 540 foreign tourists annually.