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Chamela Cuixmala Biosphere Reserve, Mexico

The Chamela-Cuixmala Biosphere Reserve is located on the Pacific coast of Mexico’s state of Jalisco. It features mostly dry tropical forests over rolling hills, as well as lower wetlands and mangroves. Through the coast, coral reefs and refuge sites are home to several marine species.

Altogether, these habitats cater for the Biosphere Reserve’s diversity of flora and fauna, and a very high number of endemic species. From a biological point of view, the region where the reserve is located is one of the most important of the country as, with a combined area of 36,000 acres, the Biosphere Reserve hosts 70 species of mammals, 270 species of birds, and over 1200 species of plants.

Designation date: 2006


Regional network:  Red de Comités y Reservas de Biosfera de Iberoamérica y el Caribe (IberoMAB) 

Ecosystem-based network: 




    Surface : 13,142.78 ha

    • Core area(s): 8,208.35 ha 
    • Buffer zone(s): 4,934.43 ha 
    • Transition zone(s): 12,168.40 ha 

    Location: 19° 30’ 00’’N; 105° 00’ 00’’W

    Administrative Authorities

    Fundación Ecológica de Cuixmala, A.C. Estación de Biología Chamela/Instituto de Biología/Universidad nacional Autónoma de México Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas

    Alvaro Miranda 

    Fundación Ecológica de Cuixmala, A.C. 
    A.Postal 161 San Patricio Melaque, Jalisco, México CP 48980 FECx. Km 45 Carretera Melaque-Puerto Vallarta La Huerta, Jalisco CP 48850, México 

    Tel.: +52 (315) 3510361 


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    Ecological Characteristics

    The region Chamela-Cuixmala is located on the coastal plain of the Sierra Madre del Sur in the subprovinces of the Sierras of Jalisco and Colima. It is a predominantly mountainous region where the relief of the coastal plain is dominated by hills, which are interrupted by plains or floodplains of rivers or streams.

    The Biosphere Reserve has a wide variety of landscapes that make up for one of the most diverse and heterogeneous areas of the America’s Pacific coast. It features a very well conserved tropical dry forest, which is one of the world’s most threatened ecosystem.  Additionally, it also gives its contribution to the conservation of insular ecosystems, as well as beach zones that serve as nesting places to various turtle species.

    Chamela-Cuixmala is home to 68 protected species according to the Mexican legislation, including five species of sea turtles, the jaguar (Panthera onca), among others.



    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    The marine zone of the Chamela Bay is used by fishing cooperatives that carry out rudimentary fishing activities of octopus, sea cucumber and lobster. The coast is also where most of tourism activities are carried out, though in the past few years new ecotourism opportunities have been coming up.

    There is very limited agricultural activities in the fringes of the Biosphere Reserves, particularly the so-called Ejidos, a communal form of land tenure with a peculiar social organization.






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    Last updated: October 2018