Header image  
line decor
      | ualberta.ca   | Faculty of Agricultural, Environmental and Life Sciences | Renewable Resources
line decor
Mexico Trip Highlights

Our tour included visit to Sierra de Quila, Bosque La Primavera, the Macheros Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, and Sierra del Tigre.


Sierra de Quila

This was the first protected area that we visited. It is protected under the Comision Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas and its day  to day operations are overseen by the Comite Regional de la Sierra de Quila and SEDER. It was created in 1982 with the initial purpose of water resource management. The predominant vegetation is a pine-oak mixed wood forest.

We were given presentations on the reasearch that is currently  being undertaken in the Sierra de Quila. Projects include using remote sensing data for forest monitoring, effects of climate change on mountain pine beetle, and resource inventory. We also learned about the importance of the forest to the local community.

In the field we were shown various sites including a weather monitoring station, bug traps, the Cascada Tecolotlan waterfall and the symbol of the protected area the Arbol de la Lira.

We were also given a description of the management issues that the park faces. These include erosion, waste management, safety issues and timber harvest. Also, the management team is looking to increase revenues of the park by promoting tourism and recreation.


Bosque La Primavera

During our visit to Bosque la Primavera, we learned why the area is considered to be the “lungs of Guadalajara”. It is located near the city which has a population of roughly 6 million, and therefore it is considered to be a natural escape for many people.

Hiking and cycling are the two main recreational activities the area is currently being managed for. The land of Bosque La Primavera is 65% privately owned. This makes it difficult to comprehensively plan management of tourism for the whole area.

We learned that the biggest issue Bosque la Primavera is human caused bush/ forest fires. This is important because the smoke from fires in the area impacts the people living in nearby Guadalajara and it results in a loss of forest cover.  In response to this issue and to manage public activities, the Bosque is regularly patrolled and a firefighting crew is available to respond quickly.  In addition the Agua Brava Training Center was created in 2006 as a place to train firefighters. About 50 firefighters are trained at the center each year and 20-40 of them visit Alberta to assist with firefighting and train in a different environment. This is exchange is part of the Jalisco-Alberta Sister State Agreement.


Macheros Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary

The Macheros Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary is one of the smaller monarch sanctuaries in central Mexico, located in Michoacán state. These areas were originally set aside as a protected area after the discovery of overwintering colonies of monarch butterflies from Canada and the United States. In total Mexico has 56,259 ha set aside for monarch conservation.

We arrived at the sanctuary around nine o’clock in the morning and made the hour long hike to the valley the butterflies occupied. Once in the valley we marveled at the number of monarchs, as there were thousands resting on each tree. We then had the amazing experience of watching as the butterflies awoke, and warmed their wings in the sun, and took flight.

These sanctuaries are often run by small rural communities or ejidos. This provides an opportunity for ecotourism which is an alternate form of economic gain aside from farming and deforestation. Ecotourism is a new concept in Mexico and visiting the Macheros Sanctuary allowed us to see an ejido moving from a resource based economy to a tourist based economy.


Sierra del Tigre

Sierra del Tigre is a protected forest southeast of Guadalajara comprised of mainly pine and oak species. The presentations given to us in this area described the impact of insect infestation on forest health and yield. Many pine species in Sierra del Tigre have been significantly affected by defoliation from a sawfly outbreak. In the last five years, sawflies have destroyed approximately 5,800 ha of forest.

Research in Sierra del Tigre has explored using biological control to manage the sawfly outbreak. Unfortunately this method has not yet been successful. The only method of control that seems to be having any effect on sawfly population is the method of prescribed burn. The burns are managed by the fire protection team in the area.

Ownership of Sierra del Tigre is 40% ejidos and 60% private ownership. The private ownership makes it difficult for the protected area to form a cohesive management strategy. Ejido owners are concerned with maintenance of forest health and controlling fires, as well as replanting after logging or fire.