When seen through the lens of economic development, the dramatic
landscapes and marine environment in Baja California Sur can be
viewed as one of the state’s major obstacles or as one of its
most important assets. The state’s rugged coastline and
mountainous terrain exacerbates connectivity and infrastructure
problems for its isolated rural populations; yet it is those
very same qualities that have enabled the diverse and fragile
ecosystems to maintain their integrity and beauty.
Baja California Sur contains pristine and diverse plant and
animal life throughout its coastal, mountain, marine, and desert
ecosystems. Recognizing this, the federal government, through
the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas (CONANP),
agreed to protect and manage 41% of the territory of Baja
California Sur by declaring six Natural Protected Areas (ANPs).
These ANPs presently occupy 8.7% of Mexico’s protected
territory, representing over 65,637 mi2.
a result, the state ranks second only to Baja California as the
state with the greatest amount of territory under protected
status. One of the significant challenges facing the ANPs is to
overcome the perception that conservation is an opponent of
development, and indeed to show that conservation is
indispensable to maintaining a continual source of natural
resources for future economic growth and development.
Despite the federal interest in protecting these unique
resources, federal agencies are out of synch with their
municipal and state counterparts, some of which do not even
exist. Because so much territory is already devoted to
protected areas, the state government is reluctant to embrace
new protected areas, especially in the state’s coastal zone.
For this reason, models of sustainable development projects need
to be given high visibility and promotion.
Declaration Date, and Data for Natural Protected Areas in Baja
Cabo San Lucas
Natural Protected Area
(re-categorized in 2000)
waterfall; rocky and marine habitats
hectares (6,160,562 acres)
coastal dunes and mangroves; microphyllous desert;
UNESCO (1993); Ramsar (2004)
Sierra La Laguna Biosphere Reserve
forest; tropical jungle; palm oases; desert scrub; and
National Marine Park
spiny desert scrub; coastal dunes; xerophyllous scrub;
two marine no-take zones.
Islands of the
Gulf of California Flora and Fauna Protected Area
244 islands in
the Gulf of California;
hectares (794,767.5 acres)
desert; microphyllous desert; desert scrub; received
UNESCO World Heritage status in July 2005
Source: CONANP website
Although the six ANPs located in Baja California Sur are
outstanding examples of the unique biodiversity of the Baja
California peninsula, they all suffer from insufficient
financial resources and external pressures from land speculation
and coastal development.
The World Bank’s Global Environment Facility (GEF), other
multilateral organizations, private businesses, and
international nonprofits are currently supporting conservation,
restoration, sustainable usage, and scientific research
projects; funding is channeled through CONANP or through third
parties that support the ANP management programs.
New donors and funding partnerships must emerge to continue to
preserve these diverse and globally significant ecosystems. The
good news is that efforts are now underway on this front through
the leadership of Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la
Naturaleza (FMCN) and the Guaymas-based nonprofit, Comunidad y
role of the natural protected areas and their management policy
is to provide a sustainable orientation to development in Baja
California Sur. There is still, however, a great lack of
knowledge regarding the natural wealth offered by the ANPs at
the local, regional, national, and international levels. The
management programs considered to be the guiding documents for
each ANP have not been well-circulated, and tools to orient and
inform the public in general as to the programs’ existence, such
as signs, are scarce or non-existent in some ANPs.
Consequently, there are areas in the state that still lack
protection and that are unique because of their ecological
values. However, before increasing the protected area under
management in the state, sustainable opportunities must be
pursued on the ANPs that already exist so that
decision-makers can see the true value of these resources. By
the same token, it is important to highlight the leadership role
that promotes sustainable development in the ANPs and other
de Areas Naturales Protegidas [National Commission of
Natural Protected Areas] (CONANP), Programa de
Trabajo 2001-2006, SEMARNAT-CONANP-PND, ISBN
968-817-514-5, Mexico DF, p. 26.
Enrique. Personal communication, January 3, 2006.
 Gob. Del
Estado de BCS, Programa Estratégico de Ordenamiento
Territorial ( PEOT), version preliminary
digital, p. 73.
de Trabajo 2001-2006, Op. Cit., p. 50.