Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Puerto Vallarta is distinguished and privileged by its biodiversity. As one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth, this destination is a natural sanctuary, where rivers, tropical jungles, mountains and sea come together to provide a wide variety of eco-tourism options and an endless array of outdoor adventures.
One example is the Estero El Salado, a Protected Natural Area (ANP) in the heart of the city’s hotel zone comprising 169 hectares, of which approximately 135 correspond to mangrove vegetation and wetlands; the rest is made up by two medium forest remnants bordered by water and underwater vegetation, thorn forest and secondary vegetation.
Its protection has been mandatory by law since 2000, when the ANP designation was given. However, there have rarely been funds to pay for its care.
Even so, for more than 10 years Biologist Jaime Alberto Torres and a dedicated team of volunteers has been caring for the species that live in this urban eco-reserve, and maintaining and improving the space – without any government funding. To obtain some income, they take visitors on boat tours through the mangrove ecosystem and explain the diversity of species of plants and animals that live there.
Since no branch of government has put funds into the ANP, the main source of income for Jaime and his team has been the sale of personalized items such as cups and T-shirts, in addition to the tours.
Unfortunately, they have also been alone in promoting the estuary tours, since hoteliers and large tour companies do not consider it profitable to sell an activity that’s priced to make it accessible to everyone, while Jaime and his team only want to make it fun and encourage people to get involved in preserving our natural environment.
Now, the Government of Jalisco has promised to allocate efforts to remodel the facilities that the caregivers themselves have managed to build, from their own pockets, to receive groups of visitors. Jaime and his team are still waiting for this promise to materialize, while in the vicinity, land is being cleared for the construction of large buildings.
Meanwhile, the Estero continues 24 hours a day to function as a lung for Puerto Vallarta, (regulating the air), being an environment where key species in the bay’s biodiversity chain can reproduce, and cleaning the dirty drainage water before it reaches the sea.
The estuary needs volunteers, committed protectors and donors. Anyone who pays for a tour and helps spread the word will be helping greatly in the preservation of the estuary’s great diversity of wildlife and its three species of mangrove.
Source: Banderas News