Los Volcanes Biosphere Reserve and Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park covers Mexico's second and third-highest peaks, the Popocatepetl and Ixtaccíhuatl volcanoes, as well as the areas of the Zoquiapan Hacienda and its annexed areas of Zoquiapan, Ixtlahuacán, and the Río Frio river.
Los Volcanes Biosphere Reserve surrounds the volcanoes of Popocatépetl and Ixtaccíhuatl, located within the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt of south-central Mexico, and which mark the biogeographical boundary between the Neartic and Neotropic ecozones. The reserve is managed by the Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park, which forms the Administrative division of the reserve.
The park protects nearly 40,000 ha (99,000 acres) surrounding Mexico's second and third-highest peaks, the Popocatepetl and Ixtaccíhuatl volcanoes, as well as the areas of the Zoquiapan Hacienda and its annexed areas (or annexes) of Zoquiapan, Ixtlahuacán, and the Río Frio river. Created in 1935, it is one of the oldest protected areas in Mexico.
The altitude of Los Volcanes varies between 2,589 m (8,494 ft) above sea level and 5,452 m (17,887 ft) above sea level. There is a very marked ecosystem gradient deriving from the variations in altitude, favoring enormous specific wealth and the presence of endemic species.
Its diverse ecosystems consist of the pine and sacred fir (Abies religiosa, Oyamel in Nahuatl) of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt pine-oak forests as well as high-mountain prairies. Its geological formations (hills, volcanic cones and slopes) are of volcanic origin with a predomination of basalt and andesitic rocks.
Within the reserve, the core zone comes under federal jurisdiction and the buffer zone under each State’s land planning and a combination of ejido, communal and small landowners.
The transition zone is the property of the ejidos, communities and small landowners. The transition zone is the only part with human settlements, including 31,480 inhabitants and land given over to farming, stock-raising, forestry, harvesting or other uses.