Published 1st January 2010
Trade and use of wild species in Mexico
Biological richness in Mexico has favored the use and trade of plant and animal resources from wild origin since ancient times. This practice continues up till today with wildlife specimens being valued from a purely practical standpoint, up to their cultural, religious and traditional relevance.
Comercio y Aprovechamiento de Especies Silvestres en México: observaciones sobre la gestión, tendencias y retos relacionados
Adrián Reuter y Paola Mosig
Even though fauna and flora from this region has always been an integral part of the culture, a lack of knowledge on its current status and existing threats, the legal frameworks affecting them, and the ecologic and socioeconomic benefits these resources can provide if managed in a sustainable manner prevails among diverse sectors of the population. Many of the species part of this great biological and cultural diversity are seriously threatened by diverse causes such as habitat destruction for timber exploitation, single-crop farming, opening of grazing areas, tourism development and the industry. Among these threats, unsustainable national and international use of live specimens, parts and derivatives of wildlife, is of particular concern given it significantly contributes to an accelerated loss of species and ecosystems.
Mexico is a very active country when it comes to wildlife use and trade, acting both as a consumer and producer, but also as a transit country. Nonetheless, not all activities related to wildlife that take place in or involve Mexico are legal. Impacts on wildlife related crime not only imply its loss; there are many other affectations on the economic, social and other fronts. There are also other important related threats, such as great damage to crops, as a consequence of the introduction of potentially invasive non native species and diseases through exotic species to or through a country. This can cause a significant disruption of ecosystems, which can cause enormous social and economical impacts to countries and localities involved. During the last few years,
Mexico’s policies have recognized the need to promote sustainable use schemes that guarantee access and benefits from wild resources to human groups, which shows in the development and adaptation of legal frameworks and governmental structures that allow for the implementation of such policies considering control, monitoring and scientific bases. Today, some of the benefits and related challenges can be seen, as well as some of the measures taken to address the latter, however, also evident are some priority areas that still need to be addressed. To claim the synthesis of all problems affecting sustainable management and conservation of resources from wild origin subject to use and trade in a document of this nature would be extremely ambitious. Nonetheless, and after the careful analysis of diverse information sources and efforts undertaken in the country, following are 10 issues considered as priorities and worth of attention:
- There is lack of knowledge and conscience on the biological, economic and cultural value of species from wild origin, which shows on the national legislative process.
- There is a need to promote the generation of new knowledge and strengthening of the role of science on wildlife related decision making and strategies development
- Legal frameworks affecting species from wild origin need to be revised to guarantee that any modifications benefit the species and are in accordance to national wildlife policies
- Social participation on wildlife related decision making processes needs to be strengthened
- There are insufficient resources for a sound management of wildlife resources, to assure compliance with relevant legal frameworks, and to combat illicit practices
- Dis-incentives to continue with wildlife related illegal practices are very low
- Illegal wildlife trafficking can drastically affect wild populations and have disastrous consequences in the case of invasive species, or disease transmission
- Unsustainable and illegal use of species from wild origin can contribute to habitat fragmentation and connectivity loss
- There is a need to improve the link and coordination among authorities and between public policies directly or indirectly related to wildlife
- There is the need to promote and consolidate legal markets for sustainable harvested/produced goods from wild origin
Based on observed problems, and considering priorities on species of wild origin subject to use and trade mentioned, there are some general action lines that could contribute to improve the situation described: • Educate, inform and develop a conscience on priority wildlife topics • Enhance and strengthen the role of science in the management of wildlife subject to use and trade • Strengthen the legal framework and capacities to manage wildlife resources in a coordinated and adequate way It is fundamental that any country that puts forward natural resources sustainable use schemes (for whatever use) , as Mexico has done through diverse instruments and policies, assigns the sufficient resources to simultaneously develop and implement the necessary mechanisms, monitoring tools and enforcement capacities to guarantee compliance with relevant legal frameworks. If not, the risk exists that legally established use/management initiatives turn into ideal facilities for the laundering of illegally obtained specimens from wild origin.