Tehuacan-Cuicatlan Biosphere Reserve

Date of Submission: 11/12/2012
Criteria: (x)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of Mexico to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
State of Puebla and Oaxaca
Coordinates: N17 32 24 - 18 52 55 W96 59 24 - 97 48 43
Ref.: 5783
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Description

The Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve encompasses the Valley of the same name and the mountains that surround it, with an area of 490,187 ha, of which 141,782 are the proposal for World Heritage site and the rest, 348,405 ha are the buffer zone. The reserve represents a complex physiographic mosaic, with internal valleys separated by numerous mountain ranges, which causes great biological and ecosystems diversity; it is limited by the Sierra Mixteca to the West and to the East by three mountain ranges: Sierra Zongolica northward, in the middle part by the Sierra Mazateca and South Sierra de Juárez. The North-Central area, is characterized by the presence of mountains stretched in Southwest-Northeast direction. The complex topography has altitudinal variations ranging from 500 meters above sea level in the Cañada (glen) Cuicatlán, up to 3200 meters at the peak of the Sierras de Juárez and Mazatec. The Tehuacán Valley and highlands of Oaxaca located between Asunción Nochixtlán and Cuicatlán, at altitudes ranging between 1500 and 2400 meters above sea level.

Due to the altitudinal gradient that gives its complex topography and the barrier that sets the Sierra Madre Oriental to the moist winds from the Gulf of Mexico, it presents three types of climate: Tropical rainforest, dry and temperate rainforest. Mountain systems that surround or which form part of the reserve, as the Sierra Madre Oriental, Sierra Madre del Sur and Eje Volcánico Transversal, determine the differences in humidity, temperature, mean annual precipitation and potential evapotranspiration, forming a variety of microclimates. It is generally considered a semi-arid region, with an annual average temperature of 21°C and annual average precipitation of 400 mm. It is of greater ecological importance, since through this corridor of the valley passes the water that feeds the system of filtration galleries and wells of which supplies all the lower valley and cities like Tehuacán.

The Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve is a center of endemism among species of flora and presents the largest concentration of columnar cacti of the world; the vascular flora is comprised of 2,686 species; also has a great faunal diversity, vertebrate group has reports of 599 species. The site present of several endemic species.

In this area and due to its complex topography and elevation, are found diverse types of microclimates that originates different types of vegetation, such as tropical deciduous forest, thorn forest, oak forest, pine-oak forest, grasslands and desert scrub; there are a great diversity of habitats and favorable environments refuge to flora and fauna, as reflect the number of species registered until now, more than 3000 species of plants and vertebrate animals, several being regarded as endemic to this valley, for which it is considered a center of world biodiversity.

The Valley of Tehuacán - Cuicatlán is regarded as a key site on the origin and development of agriculture in Mesoamerica and has provided key information regarding the domestication of various species such as corn (Zea mays), chile (Capsicum annuum), amaranth (Amaranthus sp.), avocado (Persea americana), pumpkin (Cucurbita sp.), bean (Phaseolus sp.), among others. In the area of San Juan Raya toward Santiago Chazumba and the Limon River, we can find an important fossil zone, dominated by marine deposits, mainly of the lower and middle Cretaceous Period.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The presence of endemic species, species with categories of special protection or in danger of extinction, and the rarity of floristic species, makes that the site of Tehuacán Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve is considered Centre of global biodiversity (IUCN). Contains at least 29 plant associations with 9 types of vegetation among which stand out the dry shrubland bushes desert scrub (rosetófilos and cracicaules), low tropical deciduous forest, forests of pine and oak), junipers and mountain cloud forest.

This site is considered as a relict area of wild species and a Center of diversification of the Cactaceae family. It is one of the zones with the highest concentration of columnar cacti in the world. In terms of flora, in the region of Tehuacán-Cuicatlán, have been registered 57 species of mosses, as part of the non-vascular flora, while vascular flora is comprised of 180 families, 891 genera and 2,686 species. Of these 180 families, 76 (the 42.2%) have at least one endemic species in the area. with reports of 18 fish species, 27 species of amphibians, 85 species of reptiles, of which 20 are endemic, 338 species of birds, of which 16 are endemic and there are registered 131 species of mammals, 5 are endemic.

The Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve is also considered a key site on the origin and development of agriculture in Mesoamerica and has provided central information regarding the domestication of various species such as maize (Zea mays), chile (Capsicum annuum), amaranth (Amaranthus sp.), avocado (Persea americana), pumpkin (Cucurbita sp.), bean (Phaseolus sp.), among others.

Criterion (x): the presence of endemic species, species with categories of special protection or in danger of extinction, and the rarity of floristic species, since that site is considered Centre of global biodiversity (IUCN). The great variety of microclimates and habitats in the zone causes at least 29 plant associations with 9 types of vegetation among which stand out the Shrublands bushes (rosetófilos and cracicaules), low tropical deciduous forest, forests of pine and oak), junipers and mountain cloud forest. This site is regarded as a relict area of wild species and a Center of diversification of the Cactaceae family.

It is one of the zones with the highest concentration of columnar cacti in the world. In terms of flora refers, in the region of Tehuacán-Cuicatlán, have been registered 57 species of mosses, as part of the non-vascular flora, while vascular flora is comprised of 180 families, 891 genera and 2,686 species. Of these 180 families, 76 (the 42.2%) have at least one endemic species in the area. These rich biodiversity has a high degree of endemisms. Also has a great faunal diversity, vertebrate group has reports of 18 fish species, 27 species of amphibians, 85 species of reptiles, of which 20 are endemic, 338 species of birds, of which 16 are endemic and there are registered 131 species of mammals, 5 are endemic to the zone.

Within the biogeographic units there can be found relict communities or species of high value which by its restricted distribution, low number of population or critical condition of preservation require special care. They are considered important spaces for the protection of endemic species or have some category of protection as in the case of macaw (Ara militaris), otter (Lontra longicaudis), short tail owl (Micrathene withneyii), royal palm (Dioon caputoi), sotolin (Fouqueria pubescens) and elephant leg (Beaucarnea sp); in the case of plant species, we have Echinocactus platyacanthus, Ferocactus haematacanthus, Echeveria purpusii, E. leucotricha, E. leaui, Dahlia pachyphyla, Laelia halbingeriana, Villadia imbricada, Sedum papalotensis, S. hernandezi, Brahea nitida, Mammillaria varieculata, M. dlixantocentron, M. huitzilopochtli, M. pectinifera, Agave titanota. As well as a community of bats in the cave Cueva del Obispo, Puente Colosal.

The Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve is also considered a key site on the origin and development of agriculture in Mesoamerica and has provided central information regarding the domestication of various species such as maize (Zea mays), chile (Capsicum annuum), amaranth (Amaranthus sp.), avocado (Persea americana), pumpkin (Cucurbita sp.), bean (Phaseolus sp.), among others.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Many studies and evaluations of the protected area, demonstrate that the ecosystems of the region of the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve are characterized by their great wealth and fragility, and contain representative samples of original ecosystems, and are not significantly altered. The valleys are a very important ecological corridor that maintains the connectivity between Sierras and valleys. This was declared a natural protected area as Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve, by presidential decree in September 18th, 1998. It is administered by the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas, a management programme have been recently issued, and has permanent federal budget and international projects oriented to sustainable use of resources.

Comparison with other similar properties

Grand Canyon National Park: The park's diverse topography has resulted in Equally diverse ecosystems. The five life zones Within the canyon are Represented in a remarkably small geographic area. Grand Canyon National Park is an ecological refuge, with Relatively undisturbed remnants of dwindling ecosystems (Such as forest and desert riparian boreal communities), and multiple numerous endemic, rare or endangered plant and animal species.

Over 1.000 plant species have so far been Identified from the park. There are 11 plant species listed as Threatened in the United States statutes in the park, Including Palmer Amsonia, goldenweed, cactus plains, Scouler catchfly, wild Buckwheats, primrose and clute penstemon. In Addition, 15 plant species are recommended for consideration as Threatened Species under the Endangered Species Act.

Concerning the fauna, 76 mammal, 299 bird and 41 reptile and amphibian species Have Been Identified from the park and some 16 fish species inhabit the Colorado River and its tributaries. Rare or Threatened birds are listed under the United States Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park: An EXTENSIVE cave system has Developed Within the reef as a result of sulfuric acid dissolution and of the 81 Known caves, Carlsbad Cavern is the largest and Lechuguilla Cave is the MOST EXTENSIVE and decorated cave in the world.

Above-ground of the cavern, the vegetation Communities range from desert to coniferous forest. Some 800 plant species Have Been Identified, of Which three are Internationally Threatened: Sneed pincushion cactus, pincushion cactus Lee and Lloyd's hedgehog cactus. The wildlife inventory includes 64 mammals, 331 bird species and 44 herpetofauna.

Ischigualasto / Talampaya Natural Parks: These two contiguous parks, Extending over 275.300 has in the desert region on the western border of the Sierra Pampeanas of central Argentina. Today Ischigualasto-sparse desert vegetation has Talampaya Characterized by xeric shrubs and cactus. The wildlife is typical of the arid regions of western Argentina Including Regarded As several species being of special value Either Because They are endemic, Nationally Threatened or culturally valuable, Including Andean condor, chestnut canastero, sandy cock, puma, guanaco, mara and viscacha.