April’s news and events

Dear supporter,

Welcome to this month’s newsletter. As usual, the Sierra Gorda Alliance has been busy on a number of fronts, from helping to set benchmarks for sustainable tourism, to participating in international forums that look to protect forests, to watching youth get their hands dirty through soil regeneration!

We hope you enjoy this edition. Thank you again for your support in making this vital work possible.



Sierra Gorda friends, you can do more for wildlife in danger, like this recently liberated Margay who depends on well-conserved forests, by donating to our Global Giving project. Global Giving is offering a 30% match on donations TODAY ONLY, which means every dollar will go that much further. If you can, donate today here

Sierra Gorda now a global benchmark for sustainable tourism

Last month, the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve in Mexico became the first Central American destination to complete the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s (GSTC) Early Adopters Program. We were able to demonstrate how the Reserve was able to meet strict definitions of sustainable tourism, as set by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. These include being able to demonstrate sustainable destination management; maximize social and economic benefits for the host community and minimize negative impacts; maximize benefits to communities, visitors and cultural heritage and minimize impacts; and maximize benefits to the environment and minimize negative impacts. The criteria are designed to be used by all types and scales of destinations.
This recognition helps validate the work and effort that goes into creating a truly sustainable, community-focused eco-destination, which we hope to see replicated across the region.


 Martha Isabel Ruiz Corzo explains what it means to be a model for this global sustainable destination standard in a video for the Global Sustainable Tourism Council

See all of the “Early Adopter” destinations here

Interaction and integration in Socio-Ecological Systems, Katoomba XX in Lima Perú  

This month, Pati Ruiz Corzo, director of Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda I.A.P. was invited by Peru’s Environment Ministry to attend the Ecosystem Service Forum in Peru. Designed by Forest Trends, group of world experts in ecosystem services and one of Sierra Gorda’s partners, the forum aimed to identify opportunities for climate policy and finance to align with other public and private investments and commitments to ensure that forests and other ecosystems continue to provide critical support for a stable climate, resilient societies, human development, and food security.

Ruiz Corzo presented a case study of participative conservation in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, demonstrating how eco-services are already working to generate real income opportunities for landowners, while protecting old forests. We’re hoping that like in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, environment agencies and local communities will work together to develop a sustainable economy, while protecting their natural resources including forests, soils, mountains and wildlife.

See more here

Replicating Regenerative Soil Management


In an effort to reduce the environmental impacts of current agricultural practices, last month, Bosque Sustentable experts carried out training sessions for farmers and citizens from the state of Guanajuato. The training included lessons on Holistic Management, Keyline design, soils regeneration and organic agriculture, with special emphasis on looking after the environment and one’s health.

New Laws on Climate Change

Querétaro state’s Sustainable Development Commission has met with environmental authorities, environmental organizations and municipality presidents from the Sierra Gorda to present the state’s new Climate Change law.

The new law is expected to support sustainable tourism activities, upon which the region depends, through protection of endangered forests and ecosystems in the Biosphere, Yairo Marina Alcocer, president of the Commission, explained. In addition, the law will assist in confronting the impacts of large urban areas and industrial activities, which represent an enormous risk to climate change.

Youth get their hands dirty

And it’s all for a good cause. Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda has been organizing skill-building workshops on soil regeneration management throughout March and April, to provide Ecoclub members with the tools and knowledge to better care for their environment. Sustainable agriculture expert and Bosque Sustentable’s Soil Regeneration program manager, Mario Pedraza Ruiz, invites students to his pilot ranch in Tonatico, where they participate in producing organic fertilizers, learn the importance of crushed volcanic rock, and see how to implement Keyline design. Equipped with new skills and knowledge, the aim is for these young people to replicate these practices in their respective communities and carry out soil conservation by establishing community organic vegetable gardens. We hope that this effort will have a trickledown effect, improving environmental conditions and, therefore, people’s quality of life.

Photo of the month by Roberto Pedraza Ruiz


Seductively beautiful, orchids are the most diverse plant family on our planet, and have managed to adapt to a variety of natural surroundings. In the Sierra Gorda, they can be found in every ecosystem, and we are proud to protect the various species in our private reserves. This month’s photo is of an Encyclia cochleata, an epiphyte species that I captured just last week.

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March News and Events

Sierra Gorda Completes “Early Adopter” Assessment Applying Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria

Fonda Los Encinos, La Colgada

“The Sierra Gorda region has solidified their commitment to help their local communities preserve two major conservation areas in the Sierra Gorda region: one in Querétaro and one in the state of San Luis Potosí, through sustainable tourism development and their work in the GSTC Destination Partnership Program. Through this collaboration and network, ecotourism is an impetus for conservation efforts and addressing poverty alleviation full scale. We highly commend Sierra Gorda’s leadership in working towards sustainable development and addressing the current challenges within the region” expressed Dr Kelly Bricker, GSTC Chair, Board of Directors.

Assisted by Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda – destination Liason – Sustainable Travel International conducted an on-site evaluation of Sierra Gorda as part of the GSTC Destination Criteria Early Adopter Program. “The community-driven approach in Sierra Gorda is extraordinary, and at the very heart of Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda’s mission. The destination’s excellent stewardship practices include carbon emission and waste management, the involvement of local community groups in conservation initiatives, and effective capacity building programs for local micro-enterprises. We are confident Sierra Gorda will build on these strengths while adopting recommendations for improvement in the coming period,” concluded Kathleen Pessolano, the “Assesor” and Senior Director of Destinations at Sustainable Travel International.

Read more here

Sierra Gorda in Mexico, Iran and Cambodia win International Contest in Socially Responsible Tourism

To Do award ceremony 2

For the first time, Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda represented the network of community ecotourism and nature operators in the Sierra Gorda at ITB Berlin, the International Tourism Bourse, known throughout the world as both the top trade show for the global tourism industry and the largest travel show for private visitors.

Studienkreis für Tourismus und Entwicklung e.V. foundation focuses on socially responsible tourism and on the 5th March they presentedthe awarded tourism projects with theTO DO! 2013 prize since they share the same objective: to improve people’s living conditions by carefully developing tourism products and services in a planned manner – in ecologically valuable areas. The most important criterion for the award is the participation of the local population in the planning and implementation of all the tourism related projects. This establishes a special connection between participation, social responsibility and sustainability.

The regional development project of Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda in the Biosphere Reserve in Querétaro, Mexico, the Chambok Community Based Ecotourism Project in Cambodia at the Kirirom National Park, and the Boomkolbeh – Turkmen Ecolodge at the rim of the Golestan National Park in Iran are the winners of the TO DO! 2013.

Read more here 

Promoting Women’s Development, UN Women


This past month, long-time conservationist and gender activist Martha “Pati” Isabel Ruiz Corzo participated in the fifty-eighth session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), at United Nations Headquarters, New York. Ms Ruiz Corzo was invited as a panelist to discuss the issue of gender and access to resources, an issue of growing concern and import as cities around the world grapple with achieving both sustainability and a higher degree of resilience, while rural progress and development continues to rapidly advance.

Read more here

Attended Ecofest

Ecofest con voluntaria de HSBC

During the last weekend of March, members of the GESG team attended Ecofest in Mexico City, a fair of sustainable products organized by Páginas Verdes (a directory of sustainable businesses in Mexico). It was a great success and we hope that lots of people who visited our stall will visit the Sierra Gorda as responsible tourists.

British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums raise funds for the Sierra Gorda

World Land Trust

Employees of BIAZA – the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums – are taking on a Chilli Challenge to raise funds for land purchase in Mexico’s Sierra Gorda as part of BIAZA Buy an Acre. The aim of BIAZA Buy an Acre is to raise £10,000 to safeguard 100 acres of land in Sierra Gorda, Mexico, in partnership with WLT and WLT’s Mexican partner Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda (GESG). The BIAZA camera-trap will be presented to Roberto Pedraza, GESG’s Technical Director, when he visits London in May.

Read more here

Ecoclubs learn about Soil Regeneration

On Saturday 29th March the first of a series of Saturday workshops for members of Ecoclubes Mexico was held by Grupo Ecologico Sierra Gorda in Jalpan de Serra. Members of the Ecoclubes act as environmental ambassadors within their communities and work to encourage others to help look after the planet. This week’s workshop included a presentation by Mario Pedraza the coordinator of the soil regeneration and management program at Grupo Ecologico Sierra Gorda. The members of the Ecoclubes learnt about the negative effect intensive agriculture is having on our soils and wildlife and how alternative methods can help support biodiversity whilst producing excellent harvests.

Read more here

Photo of the month


Counterparts of the surface ecosystems, in the gut of the Sierra Gorda’s limestone rock, water and patient processes over millions of years have created subterranean gardens. Delicate and vulnerable, these subterranean gardens are home to unique and beautiful spots. In this photo, the light and reflection, thanks to a natural skylight, highlighted the rocks’ varied tones, even though they are of the same composition. These spaces deserve all our effort to be protected.

For more information, please contact camillabarnes@sierragorda.net

See our YouTube Channel for documentaries
Follow us on Facebook: Sierra Gorda
Ecotours + Productos
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Follow us on Twitter: @SierraGorda