CEC releases conservation priorities for more than three million acres of contiguous, protected areas on both sides of US-Mexico border
The Commission for Environmental Cooperation releases the Big Bend-Río Bravo Conservation Assessment, the latest result of over 20 years of environmental cooperation in North America
Montreal, 23 April 2014—Today, the CEC released its Conservation Assessment for the Big Bend-Río Bravo Region: A Binational Collaborative Approach to Conservation, which identifies 29 priority conservation areas in a region straddling the United States-Mexico border that includes 11 different protected areas in the states of Texas, Coahuila, and Chihuahua. This region features unique, highly diverse arid and semi-arid habitats inhabited by rare and endangered plants and animals, and provides a vital migratory stopping point for many species of birds and animals on their journey across the continent.
The improved resilience for this area of North America that will result from the implementation of the recommendations of the Assessment is being celebrated by the CEC as part of its 20thanniversary. The cooperative, multi-stakeholder approach used to identify conservation priorities in the Big Bend-Río Bravo region included scientists, government experts, private landowners, and communities and is symbolic of the CEC’s 20 years of collaborative work on a wide array of environmental policy issues.
Taking input from those who live and work in the Rio Grande region, along with advice from outside experts, the Assessment identifies conservation targets for, and threats to, the grassland, mountainous, aquatic, and riparian habitats of this vast transboundary landscape, including the Rio Grande itself. Drawing from the recommendations and priorities identified in the Assessment for the region, the CEC is supporting restoration and monitoring actions in selected tributaries and a landscape-wide monitoring program throughout the region.
Recommendations of the Assessment:
- Protect environmental quality and promote sustainable economic development of border communities, including the development of binational ecotourism routes on both sides of the US-Mexico border;
- Develop conservation strategies that will preserve an ecosystem that is resilient to climatic changes;
- Build capacity within academia, state and federal agencies, as well as within civil society to conduct the recommended inventories, monitoring, and research in each of the 29 priority conservation areas identified;
- Create an institutional framework to facilitate binational conservation and restoration projects in the region; and
- Support and justify funding at the international, national, and local levels in both Mexico and the United States.
The Assessment’s ultimate goals are to:
- Establish a common frame for discussing transboundary protection of natural resources in the region;
- Assist all who live and work in the region in identifying opportunities for improving conservation practices;
- Create or maintain ongoing collaborative conservation projects across the Big Bend-Río Bravo landscape;
- Serve as a model for transboundary conservation efforts that can inform similar initiatives across North America, including in Canada.
When Big Bend National Park was established on 12 June 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States of America wrote to President Manuel Ávila Camacho of Mexico, “I do not believe that this undertaking in the Big Bend will be complete until the entire park area in this region on both sides of the Rio Grande forms one great international park.” Seventy years later, the pace of the current binational efforts picked up in 2010, with a statement from the US and Mexican governments to “work through appropriate national processes to recognize and designate Big Bend–Río Bravo as a natural area of binational interest.”