BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR

Community land ordinances

Goal
To promote sustainable rural development. We help develop and implement community land ordinances. We assist in organizing the participation of community members and the implementation of projects that promote sustainable development.

Timeframe
Since 2010 we began with the first study and program implementation in the community of Las Animas. Since then, we have replicated this model in the Ejido San Javier, in the community of Santa María de Toris, Ejido Tepentú and Ejido Santo Domingo.

Context
Several factors threaten the viability of rural communities. Livestock management practices are weak or non-existent, wildlife poaching, natural resources are over-exploited and natural habitat are being fragmented by unplanned projects and real estate development. These actions devalue the conservation of natural resources such as water, flora and fauna.
The communities in the Sierra La Giganta (3,262 inhabitants) face complex challenges of poverty, marginalization and inequality in access to development opportunities. The prevailing social dynamic benefits mainly external actors and intermediaries in the market to the detriment of local landowners and ranchers. Too often, local people lack of alternatives and capabilities, and they experience an eroding loss of the right to territory and identity.

Description
Community land ordinances are social tools to organize a community around a purpose, articulate concrete actions and address immediate problems. This process supports community development and conservation by strengthening the capacity of communities to organize and resolve their challenges collectively.

Activities
• Support local communities to define strategies to overcome management challenges.
• Help communities develop studies of land management and support them in their implementation.
• Provide a follow up to a system of social organization through periodic meetings to define commitments and measure progress towards achieving goals. We assist in the creation of comprehensive plans and visions for communities by providing technical advice and links to key institutions.
• Support the implementation of alternative solutions agreed to between organizations and individuals in the community.

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Land Acquisition (El Portezuelo natural reserve)

Goal:
Acquire strategic lands located in the coastal corridor between Loreto and La Paz.

Timeframe:
In 2001 we made the first land acquisition, and this strategy had continued throughout the years.

Context:
The Natural Reserve El Portezuelo lands owned by Niparajá comprise a total area of 7,298 hectares. These lands were acquired exclusively for conservation purposes with funds provided by international foundations. These lands are in one of the three priority ecological regions called Sierra Mechudo, and are part of the area proposed for Biosphere Reserve Sierra La Giganta and Guadalupe. Currently 4,652 hectares are certified for conservation. Another 2,646 hectares are planned for submission to certification this year. These lands are home to bighorn sheep and a spectacular coastline.

Description:
The Natural Reserve El Portezuelo integrates wetlands, seasonal lakes, oases, and habitat for species at risk such as bighorn sheep, mule deer, puma and many species of migratory birds. It is located in one of the three regions critical for the uptake of water that supplies priority basins of Baja California Sur.

Activities:
• Ensure management activities, monitoring, surveillance and signage.
• Evaluate new acquisitions to expand this reserve.
• Involve communities within the reserve to recognize the value and benefits from these conservation lands.

Environmental technology transfer

Goal:
Decrease firewood use as a fuel for food preparation and reduce emissions of 800 tons of greenhouse gases each year. With more than 500 families as beneficiaries of these technologies we will double the number of households benefiting from these technologies.

Timeframe:
The technologies were initiated in 2000 and are ongoing.

Context:
In Baja California Sur there is limited availability and a slow recovery of forest resources due to water scarcity. The communities of the Sierras depend on the availability of wood for preparing food. Excessive use of firewood and inhalation of smoke is harmful to residents’ health. The implementation of eco-technologies can reduce the use of firewood as fuel for food preparation.

Description:
Use of wood-saving stoves and solar cookers reduces firewood consumption by up to 50%. These technologies can eliminate up to one ton of carbon dioxide emissions per unit per year. Smoky kitchens are also eliminated.

Activities:
• Promote use of solar cookers and Patsari stoves.
• Follow up to ensure that there is ownership by users.
• Monitor results of technology transfer.

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Sierras La Giganta and Guadalupe Biosphere Reserve

Goal:
Protect the natural and cultural heritage of the Sierra La Giganta and Guadalupe through the creation of a Biosphere Reserve.

Timeframe:
Started in 2008, and continues

Context:
The Sierra La Giganta and Guadalupe captures the majority of water used in BCS. Within the sierras are diverse landscapes and communities, including oases, canyons, cliffs, streams, farms and small towns. We are looking carefully at threats to the viability of this environment and their communities: drought, poverty, migration, overgrazing and logging. These are complex socio-environmental problems. However, natural resources are still in good condition and the time is right to prevent further deterioration. We are working on actions to develop local capacity, value natural wealth, promote sustainable development and conserve fresh water.

Description:
Together with partners, we are implementing solutions to the problems in the sierras. We have helped spearhead the creation of a working group composed of government agencies, research institutions, ejidos, communities and civil society organizations to create a common vision in the Sierra La Giganta. Our goal is to promote a thriving sustainable economy, based on environmental and cultural opportunities in the region. We have also established a communications campaign for all age groups, designed to raise awareness of the social, biological, historical and hydrological values and challenges.

Activities:
• Promote the concept of the Sierra La Giganta and Guadalupe Biosphere Reserve among the authorities.
• Inform communities about the benefits of creating the Biosphere Reserve.
• Collaborate for inclusive, transparent and objective public input.

Integrated watershed management program for the city of La Paz

Goal:
Working closely with public and private stakeholders, we are creating guidelines to implement long-term strategies and well-coordinated conservation and management of water in La Paz.

Timeframe:
Project started in 2015

Context:
Sierras de Las Trincheras and El Novillo are the main aquifer recharge zone for the City of La Paz. This area is vital for the city because it supplies the only source of water for its 224,000 inhabitants. Urban growth, deforestation, erosion, illegal logging and poor ranching practices are all harming our aquifer recharge areas. The lack of an Integrated Watershed Management Plan has reduced the ability of aquifers to recharge, and is causing overexploitation and consequent saline intrusion.

Description:
In 2015, we began to develop an Integrated Watershed Management Plan according to technical standards published by CONAGUA. These actions will contribute to better use and management of water in the basin of La Paz. The plan takes into account the impacts of climate change.

Activities:
• Promote the integration of guidelines and identify actions for the basin by the La Paz technical group.

Efective management of Marine Protected Areas

Goal:
Promote the implementation, effective management and evaluation of the three Marine Protected Areas priority for the Program (Cabo Pulmo National Park, Espíritu Santo National Park and Balandra Bay Protected Area.

Timeframe:
Project began in 2004 and continues

Context:
Natural Protected Areas are a way to preserve our natural and cultural capital. The main goals of the NPAs are to promote the responsible use of marine resources, protect priority species and ensure the welfare of the communities that depend on these resources. In Niparajá, along with a wide range of partners, we ensure the managers of these areas have the tools to successfully meet conservation objectives.
Our participation in the promotion and improvement of NPAs began in 2004 with the coordination of a comprehensive planning process and participation of major users of the Espiritu Santo Island, which led to the creation of the National Park in 2007.
Since then, the Marine Conservation Program has participated and promoted the effective management of other NPAs such as Cabo Pulmo National Park and Balandra Bay.

Description:
By helping to create NPAs Niparajá promotes both integrated management and collective learning in conservation and sustainability.
NPAs are also powerful environmental policies. They help coordinate efforts among different levels of government regulators who are jointly responsible for the proper use and protection of resources.

Activities:
• Work with CONANP on publication and implementation of the management programs of the priority areas for Niparajá.
• Promote the development and implementation of other management tools applicable in priority MPAs (Public Use Programs).
• Strengthen management, disseminate strategies and infrastructure for handling visitors with CONANP through approval of the Management and Public Use Programs.
• Collaborate with CONANP and other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to promote the adoption of guidelines for evaluating management effectiveness of protected areas.

Conservation tools in adjacent areas to priority Natural Protected Areas

Goal:
Promote the implementation of tools and instruments of land ordinances in communities adjacent to the priority NPAs.

Timeframe:
From 2012 to the present

Context:
Growing at approximately 4.5% per year, Baja California Sur is one of the fastest growing states in Mexico. La Paz is growing a similar percentage and Los Cabos is expanding at twice that rate. Coastal development, mainly in Los Cabos, but also in La Paz, has been a constant trend, leading to scenes of disorder and poor planning.
Although it is difficult to locate comprehensive data, there are at least 17 new developments planned around Cabo Pulmo National Park, which could add up to 43,000 rooms. Around the Balandra Bay Protected Area, there are plans to build about 15,000 rooms over the next 10 years.
Without proper planning, these developments represent a major threat to the viability of protected areas and the quality of life of those living in Baja California Sur.

Description:
Although relatively young, the governing bodies involved in the creation of the protected areas are quickly becoming more effective. Recent success stories include the protection of important sites such as Balandra Bay and Cabo Pulmo.
Uncontrolled urban growth and coastal development is a complex issue that requires a systematic management approach. To meet conservation goals, the management of these natural areas must be supplemented by a better outcome using land-planning ordinances.

Activities:
• Monitor the authorization of coastal development in Cabo del Este and La Paz.
• Evaluate Environmental Impact Manifestations (EIM) in coastal development projects in priority natural areas.
• Promote land use plans in communities adjacent to Cabo Pulmo and Balandra.
• Identify marine areas of importance (mangroves, dunes and beaches ecosystems) and promote conservation by creating strategic agreements.

Citizen participation and local capacity building

Goal:
Promote the active participation of communities to strengthen their organizations and local capacities.

Timeframe:
Started in 2007 and is ongoing

Context:
An informed and engaged society promotes well-being and learning for each of its members and the community-at-large.
Niparajá encourages businesses to use their natural resources sustainably. To achieve this, we encourage citizen participation by creating alliances and collaborations that are transparent, fair and accessible.

Description:
Niparajá creates awareness campaigns that encourage responsible use of natural resources in the communities of La Ribera, Cabo Pulmo and La Paz. Recent major campaigns include the one to protect Balandra Bay, the prevention of construction of mega tourist developments in the area of Cabo Pulmo and a moratorium on open-pit mining.
In all these cases Niparajá has acted in conjunction with a wide range of partners. Niparajá contributes with legal and technical expertise to the discussion.
We also encourage communities to build their own capabilities that allow citizens to organize and manage local resources. We promote the conservation and sustainable economic projects generation adequate to each community.

Activities:
• Promote user participation in the development of environmental policy such as Management and Public Use Programs.
• Promote compliance with the rules of environmental policies through information campaigns.
• Promote the operation and participation in the Advisory Councils of the priority NPAs.
• Participate in the alliance and engage new audiences in the Cabo Pulmo Vivo Campaign (Santiago, La Ribera, Los Cabos.).
• Establish working arrangements for conservation in the communities of Cabo Pulmo and La Ribera.
• Support the integration, monitoring and understanding of legal remedies by the public to protect Cabo Pulmo.

Fisheries management instruments

Goal:
Collaborate with stakeholders to create effective tools that enable sustainability of fisheries resources.

Timeframe:
Started in 2009 and ongoing.

Context:
Implement a fisheries management plan that depends on the effective use of all available technical resources.
One major obstacle to overcome is the lack of reliable quantitative and qualitative information. The lack of data is a barrier to effective fisheries management, strategic planning and decision-making.
Additional challenges include gaps in the implementation of fisheries management plans, and a poor overall understanding of content and processes to implement a fishery management plan.

Description:
This initiative aims to generate biological and socio-economic information to help make the best decisions on the use of marine resources. It also promotes collaboration among fishermen and authorities in the decision-making process and implementation of effective management plans.
Today we work with more than 30 fishermen and 12 technical divers. They generate information that measure the effectiveness of marine refuge (no-take) areas, that improves the use of resources to achieve sustainable management of fisheries.

Activities:
• Generate accurate biological data about the fisheries in the Coastal Corridor that will be useful in decision-making.
• Collaborate with partners to propose terms of reference and guidelines for fisheries management.

No Take Zones in the coastal Corridor of San Cosme to Punta Coyote

Goal:
Ensure effective operation of the network of eleven fish “no-take” zones. This program has a two-pronged goal. First, we wish to help maintain high current levels of fish production. Second, we are helping to increase the numbers of some fish species through a fishing ban in certain areas in order to protect breeding grounds, and restore sites that were once highly productive.

Timeframe:
Started in 2010 and is ongoing.

Context:
The San Cosme to Punta Coyote Corridor encompasses thirteen isolated and difficult-to-access communities that depend entirely on fishing. The people of these communities have witnessed the decline of fishery resources over recent years. Although coastal fishermen use traditional methods, there is a need to promote more sustainable practices that will allow them to restore or maintain their fisheries.
We started working with communities in the Corridor of San Cosme to Punta Coyote identifying and promoting useful strategies to prevent deterioration of the marine resources. As part of this initiative, communities proposed the creation of a network of no-take fisheries refuges, which was made official by the Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) on November 16, 2012.

Description:
In 2010 CONAPESCA invited the corridor communities to participate in a program of fisheries management. This initiative included: a census of fishing effort, the regularization of fishing permits, implementing a program of fishing and underwater monitoring, developing proposals to build management plans and the establishment of a network of refuge areas.
Niparajá has contributed to each of the components of fisheries management. We were active in the establishment of the network of refuge areas. This fishery management program was incorporated in the General Law of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture but had never been used in marine areas. It took two years to inform, discuss, propose and agree to implement a network of eleven fish sanctuary zones requested by the communities themselves.

Activities:
• Promote the effective operation of the network of refuge areas.
• Participate in the working group with CONAPESCA to generate guidelines for the establishment and management of fish refuges.
• Build local capacity to participate in fisheries management through activities such as monitoring, community policing and effective interactions with authorities.
• Install signage to enable the network of places of refuge is respected.
• Manage additional resources to support the functioning of the network of refuge areas.

Cooperative development and fishing communities

Goal:
Promote cooperatives and local communities as custodians of marine resources. Encourage active participation in management of local fisheries. Educate citizens to act as promoters of positive change.

Timeframe:
Started in 2006 and ongoing.
Niparajá has worked with various fish production cooperative societies to develop the tools and skills necessary for them to improve their organization, participation in decision-making and promoting responsible fisheries.

Context:
Production cooperatives are typically the largest communities dedicated to fishing. A community or group of fishermen with many members has more effective access to better economic alternatives, and is more likely to participate in efficient production and marketing of fish products. In addition, research shows that community participation promotes the conservation of resources.
However, the full potential for these fisheries organizations has not been achieved due to lack of continuity in the projects or lack of capacity. Niparajá works with communities and cooperatives to strengthen their development and enable them to become stewards of local resources.

Description:
A well-organized fishing industry is essential to the conservation of marine resources. We believe that strong, trained and committed fishermen and fishery organizations play a crucial role in preserving marine resources. We work with cooperatives and communities to identify and train the natural leaders in their communities as the “voice” of fishermen. These leaders become champions to develop the tools necessary to achieve sustainable fisheries.

Activities:
• Promote internal practices among fishing cooperatives that are transparent, with respect for rules to maintain operations.
• Identify and train a group of fishing leaders who can effectively represent fishing communities in decision-making.
• Promote the fulfillment of the democratic processes of a federation in the cooperatives on the Corridor.

Fishermen network: from fisherman to fisherman

Goal:
Encourage dialogue and information exchange among fishermen that promotes sustainable fishing.

Timeframe:
Started in 2003 and is ongoing
Pescador a Pescador has been a space for sharing experiences and learning between members of the fishing industry. In 2004, Community and Biodiversity joined with Niparajá to promote this initiative, which has since spread to other fishing communities across Mexico.

Context:
The best way to learn is through experience sharing and dialogue with one’s peers. Therefore, we encourage fishermen to have space for discussion and exchange of experiences among themselves.

Description:
Pescador a Pescador is an effort that began in 2003 seeking to create unique learning opportunities and networking among fishermen. Over 13 years, more than 200 fishermen have participated in these meetings, which happen every 4 years or so.
In the fourth event in 2015, the central theme was “The Organization is the Key.” The event allowed us to reflect, share experiences and generate agreements aimed at achieving sustainable management of fishery resources and the creation of stronger organizations. One of the fundamental steps to finalize the results of the meeting was the collective agreement on commitments and petitions to the authorities.

Activities:
• Create a space and a system of strategic and accessible communication for fishermen where they can share their experiences.
• Encourage various means of communication between fishermen that promote learning and information exchange.

Economic projects to improve fishing

Goal:
Promote alternative or complementary economic activities to fishing.

Timeframe:
Started in 2009 and is ongoing

Context:
The added value and the ability to access better markets is an essential component of any initiative to foster sustainable fishing. We help fishing communities innovate new ways to add market value to their products or to promote alternative activities to fishing. Our work centers on the communities of La Paz and towns along the coastal Corridor.

Description:
Economic incentives are a useful tool to promote sustainable fishing. In La Paz, Niparajá is working with two cooperatives to develop alternative tourism, publish guides and documents to support these activities and collaborated in a study to better understand the opportunities for diversify fishing in the Bay. In the corridor, we work with partners and communities to develop economic alternatives and discover opportunities to add value to products caught in the region.

Activities:
• Distribute information on tourism as an alternative to fishing in the Bay of La Paz.
• Identify and promote communities with alternative economic activities in the coastal Corridor through collaboration with experienced partners.
• Promote value-added fisheries in the Corridor area to improve the market.
• Participate in regional initiatives to establish sustainable fisheries markets.

Water dialogues

Goal:
Build a comprehensive and participatory response to the multidimensional challenges of freshwater management in the watershed of La Paz.

Timeframe:
Ongoing since 2006.

Context:
LThe Sierras of Las Trincheras and El Novillo in the southeastern part of the basin of La Paz are the main aquifer recharge area and the only water source for the city. This aquifer has been overexploited and shows signs of salt water intrusion. It also faces multi-dimensional problems from lack of monitoring wells, lack of accurate water metering, poor measurement of aquifer recharge rates, pollution from septic tanks and latrines, and contaminated streams.
These problems occur mostly in the lower and middle parts of the basin, but there is a serious deterioration of the main aquifer recharge zones in the upper-middle part of the basin.

Description:
We envision La Paz as a model of Integrated Water Management. To this end, we promote spaces for public participation, accountability and transparency in municipal, state and federal institutions. Although there is no single or simple solution, we are convinced that the construction of collaborative processes, good governance, social learning and implementation of traditional technical solutions can make peace an example nationwide.

Activities:
• Build and maintain a detailed survey of the health and function of the basin of La Paz.
• Establish links with institutions working in the conservation of the upper part of the basin.
• Strengthen the technical capabilities of the Technical Committee on Groundwater Aquifer of La Paz-Carrizal with support from the Arizona Water Institute.
• Develop an appropriate environmental education curriculum on water.
• Implement public participation activities, such as forums on resource management and communication campaigns on water management.
• Strengthen and participate in the Citizen Observatory of Water and Sanitation of La Paz (La Paz OCAS) which aims to contribute to management more efficient, equitable and transparent water.

Defend the sierra

Goal:
Promote broad public participation to keep Baja California Sur free of open pit gold mining.

Timeframe:
Started in 2008 this project is ongoing

Context:
The Sierra La Laguna is the main source of water for the municipalities of La Paz and Los Cabos. The owners of a proposed open-pit mine are currently in an exploratory phase. The mine’s proposed change of land use poses an immediate threat to the only source of water in the southern part of the Baja California peninsula. This mega-mining project is the first attempt to exploit the region in the last 10 years. In addition, there are also proposed new mines that Niparajá is monitoring.

Description:
As part of this initiative, Niparajá is integrating environmental, social and legal information that will be necessary to respond to proposed mining projects in BCS. We share the results of our work with key audiences. Also, we facilitate the ability of citizens to participate and express their opposition to these projects in different platforms. In collaboration with our partners, we present compelling cases to the relevant authorities following well-established legal procedures.

Activities:
• Disseminate reliable information on environmental and social impacts generated by open-pit mining.
• Communicate to the public the fundamental importance of the Sierra La Laguna as water plant for southern Baja California Sur.
• Maintain an internet presence as a platform for information and citizen participation.
• Organize public events.
• Collaborate with other civil society organizations and citizens interested in the legal and communication strategies to defend the water from the mountains.

Improving the regulatory framework of water management

Goal:
Promote legislation that would guarantee an adequate supply of clean, safe water as a fundamental human right. Niparajá also works to promote transparent and democratic citizen participation in the proper management. We have programs in place to monitor the correct implementation of environmental regulations that protect the ecosystems around La Paz.

Timeframe:
Ongoing since 2012

Context:
With the creation and application of laws and legal instruments, there is a need to ensure effective water management. One of the most prominent examples is the modification to the 4th Constitutional Article in 2012 which established that “access to water and sanitation provision for personal and domestic consumption as sufficient, safe, acceptable and affordable” would be a constitutional right for all Mexicans. According to law, the state would “ensure this right.”
However, it seems that the technical and budgetary challenges coupled with growing economic pressure (for mining, industry, and development.) are dictating the outcome of the political and regulatory decisions that may undercut Mexico’s constitutional mandate.

Description:
To address the problems described, we focus our work in four areas:
1) Influence the creation and improvement of public regulatory policies for the use and management of water in the three levels of government. 2) Contribute to the strengthening of the utility that distributes water in the city, 3) Encourage and strengthen citizen participation in the management and administration through transparent and democratic mechanisms; 4) Research and analysis of technical information that contributes to a correct decision-making with regard to environmental protection.

Activities:
• Participate in the development of plans at the municipal and state level to ensure water availability as a fundamental human right.
• Participate in the national information campaign “Water for People, Water for Life.” Niparajá supports a new General Water Law to ensure compliance with Article 4th of the Mexican Constitution.
• Influence changes in state laws to strengthen the regulatory framework of water management.
• Speak out against projects that could jeopardize use and management of water resources.

Towards a collective vision of water in La Paz

Goal:
Make the water issue a priority in the community and facilitate communication between sectors to find solutions.

Timeframe:
Ongoing since 2006

Context:
In contrast to other states where water use is mainly devoted to agriculture, 63% of the water from the aquifer of La Paz is consumed by urban and domestic users. There are many possibilities to improve water quality and availability for city residents.

Description:
Niparajá implements communication strategies, creates water awareness events and works with citizens, government and academics to help educate the public about the importance of the mountains that are the main aquifer recharge areas around La Paz. We investigate and share best practices that have solve problems of climate and shortage in cities similar to La Paz.

Activities:
• Implement the campaign “Water does not come from the tap, it comes from the sierras”.
• Collaborate with Ecology Project International (EPI) in teaching workshops at local schools.
• Support the Utility of La Paz with improved education for water employees.
• Promote demonstration of green urban infrastructure works.
• Build pilot projects in key aquifer recharge sites and create opportunities for citizen participation in these efforts.
• Create guidelines adapted to local conditions on green infrastructure and reforestation with native species, and promote them to be officially adopted.
• Encourage and strengthen the active participation, coordination and collaboration at both the federal and local levels to protect water resources and watersheds.

Balandra is Ours!

Goal:
Encourage responsible use of the protected area of Balandra Bay.

Timeframe:
Ongoing since 2005

Context:
Balandra Bay is a natural and social icon of Baja California Sur. It is the last relatively pristine landscape and beach near La Paz. The physical characteristics and beauty of its beaches are important in the recreation activities of Paceños and visitors.
Thanks to an unprecedented social mobilization effort, Balandra was declared a Natural Protected Area in 2012. This was an achievement of the Balandra Collective, a group with thousands of citizens of which we are part of. This combination of efforts is already a model nationally and internationally to the extent of having received the Dubai International Award for Best Practices.

Description:
The declaration of protected area is just the first step. In promoting this initiative we work to keep Balandra pristine and facilitate broad public participation in these efforts.

Activities:
• Coordinate operation of the Balandra Collective, the citizen group dedicated to the conservation of Balandra.
• Encourage public appreciation of Balandra Bay.
• Promote public participation in actions to protect Balandra.