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Naha-Metzabok Biosphere Reserve, Mexico

From a physiographic standpoint Nahá-Metzabok is characterized by the presence for the most part of strongly folded and faulted calcareous hills, giving the landscape a rugged configuration.

Designation date: 2009


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

Ecosystem-based network: 




    Surface : 43,362 ha

    • Core area(s): N/A
    • Buffer zone(s): N/A
    • Transition zone(s): N/A

    Location: N/A

    Administrative Authorities

    National Commission for Protected Natural Areas

    M. en C. José Hernández Nava

    Prolongación Av. Juarez 1085, Col La Cañada,
    Chiapas - Mexico
    CP. 26960

    Tel.: N/A

    Email: N/A

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    Ecological Characteristics

    From a physiographic standpoint Nahá-Metzabok is characterized by the presence for the most part of strongly folded and faulted calcareous hills, ,giving the landscape a rugged configuration. The calcareous folds are well defined and oriented from northeast to southeast forming long strongly dissected ranges, with large karstic plateaux on their peaks and narrow valleys at the bottom of the ravines (CIEDAC, 1991).

    Physigraphically, Metzabok includes a plain-hill-plateau sequence with an altitudinal gradient ranging from 840 m above sea level in the plains to 1,280 m above sea level for the plateaux. The region is the result of a karstification process. Underground hydrology plays an active role in dissolving limestone in the internal layers, creating cenotes that subsequently become endorheic-type lakes. The lacustrine system comprises lakes of varying dimensions, mostly temporarily or permanently intercommunicated. Due to their importance as a wetland, both areas were placed on the list of RAMSAR sites in 2003.



    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    Nahá-Metzabok, includes three ethnic groups, the Maya- Lacandon, Tzeltals and Choles. The first group that have inhabited this region of the Lacandona Forest since ancestral times are considered by many authors to be an indigenous group which remained in isolation for a long time in the forest. At present the group is estimated at 365 people in the northern part of the Lacandona forest.

    It is important to note that they are located in the core zones of Nahá- Metzabok, within the sub-communities of Nahá and Puerto Bello Metzabok, two of the 5 sub-communities that comprise the Communal Goods of the Lacandona Forest. Their land tenure regime is of a communal type and within this regime the Government recognizes the rights over a land area of a specific group of applicants.

    In the transition zone, land tenure is of the ejido-type. In this type of legal regime the Government grants land tenure to a specific group of applicants. Additionally, the Tzeltal and Chole people have a population estimated at 6500 inhabitants living in the buffer and transition zones, under the ejidotype land tenure regime.


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    Last updated: December 2018