IUCN Presents Phase II of the Project, “Management of the Cahoacán River Basin, Chiapas, Mexico, through Conservation and Restoration of Microwatersheds to Prevent Damage from Excess Water”

23 May 2012 | News story

Formal presentation of Cahoacán Project Phase II in Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico, by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), funded by Fundación Gonzalo Río Arronte I.A.P.

Mexico, April 2012 (IUCN) – Phase II of the Cahoacán Project was officially launched and presented with the participation of municipal, state and federal officials from the National Water Commission (CONAGUA), National Forest Commission (CONAFOR), National Commission on Natural Protected Areas (CONANP), Institute of Civil Protection for Comprehensive Management of Disaster Risk, Watershed Committees of the Coatán and Cahoacán Rivers, Watershed Councils of the Chiapas Coast, Department of Municipal Ecology of the Tapachula City Council, Advisory Council of the Tacaná Volcano Reserve, Secretariat of Environment and Natural History (SEMAHN), Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) and Universidad Autónoma de Chiapas (UNACH), as well as representatives of ejidos, members of the Buena Vista Microwatershed Committee, and representatives of international organizations such as Conservation International and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The event was covered by numerous local and national media.

The project’s objective is to consolidate, promote and expand local actors’ planning and participatory management capacities in order to restore, conserve and protect strategic microwatersheds, thereby improving the provision of ecosystem goods and services, especially hydrological, and reducing the impact of hydroclimate phenomenon in the Cahoacán river basin. A strategy for the valuation and compensation of ecosystem goods and services is also expected to be implemented.

The Cahoacán river basin, located in Mexico’s Hydrological Region 23, is part of territory considered national priority due to water demand, biological wealth and high vulnerability. It contains zones with important strategic ecosystems that not only supply several ecosystem goods and services, but also regulate watercourses and reduce disaster risks from excess rainwater. Of particular importance are the mesophilic mixed pine and oak forests, high forest and agroforestry systems in the upper and middle parts, altogether covering around 30% of the basin.

In that context, in the Chiapas Coast territory the Cahoacán basin constitutes a space of enormous potential for activities linking comprehensive provision of ecosystem goods and services through the restoration, conservation and protection of strategic microwatersheds, and management of disaster risk from hydrometeorological events. This is why it is considered that phase II will represent a truly experiential laboratory toward participatory implementation of a microwatershed-based planning and community management model in the medium term, constituting a viable strategy for adoption, adaption and validation to promote watershed management throughout Mexican territory.

Phase II is essentially a continuation of the Water and Nature Initiative (WANI) IUCN has promoted worldwide and with special emphasis in Mesoamerica; comprehensive watershed management actions with catalyzing effects are implemented to trigger changes in attitude among communities about developing activities that promote conservation, restoration and protection of ecosystem services and sustainable management of the territories. For this, Phase II of the Cahoacán Project applies the approach of sustainable livelihoods and comprehensive management of watershed resources, promoting research, transfer of lessons learned, demonstration projects, local capacity building and the integration of inter-institutional and multisectoral efforts, along with financial sustainability for actions furthering comprehensive watershed management by all actors inhabiting that hydrographic territory.

After the presentation of Cahoacán Project Phase II, several of those attending expressed satisfaction and gratification about the approach and the efforts of IUCN and its partners to strengthen conservation and restoration of Chiapas coast ecosystems, especially with respect to water recharge. For several populations freshwater is becoming scarcer, mainly during the summer (dry) season. Participants also indicated that fostering the valuation of strategic ecosystems with important areas of natural forest combined with subsistence farming and grazing activities is fundamental for the long-term environmental and financial sustainability of the proposed actions.

Other officials stressed that promoting and creating local capacities to extend and consolidate territory dedicated to soil and water management and conservation actions under Cahoacán Phase II will contribute significantly to reducing risk, especially from the hydrometeorological events so common along the entire coast of Chiapas.

For more information contact:
Carlos R. Rosal Del Cid
Regional Officer
Water Management Unit
E-mail: carlos.rosal@iucn.org
IUCN Regional Office for Mesoamerica and Caribbean Initiative
Phones: 00502-5966-6957 and 00502-5918-0317