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Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, Mexico

Located in the eastern end of the Yucatan peninsula, Mexico, the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve encompasses fundamental wetlands, recognized by the Ramsar Convention. It features a variety of mangroves, small estuaries, coastal lagoons, marshes and savannah that are home to a variety of species, and serve as nesting sites for some of them. In the past decade, the Biosphere Reserve has managed to stabilize the number of various endangered species.

Designation date: 2004


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

Ecosystem-based network:




    Surface : 60,348 ha

    • Core area(s): 23,685 ha
    • Buffer zone(s): 36,666 ha
    • Transition zone(s): 166,77.3 ha
      • Terrestrial: 134,478 ha
      • Marine: 32,294.2 ha

    Location: 21° 31’ 02’’ N; 87° 49’ 38’’W

    Administrative Authorities

    Francisco Ricardo Gómez Lozano

    Director Regional Península de Yucatán y Caribe Mexicano (Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas)
    Calle Venado Supermanzana 20 manzana 18 lote 2 número 73.
    Código postal 77500, Cancún, Quintana Roo. Benito Juárez.

    Tel.: +52  (998) 8872711 Ext. 18901.


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    Ecological Characteristics

    The area is fundamental for the conservation of a number of species. For instance, its marshes are the only nesting site for the Caribbean pink flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber ruber) and an important nesting site for turtles like critically endangered Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate) and the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). In fact, the wetlands feature a substantial number of rare, vulnerable and endangered species, like the Rhyncholaelia digbyana.

    It is also an important resting place for migrating birds, like the black-necked stilt (Himantopus mexicanus), who spends the winters in the region.





    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    The area has long been an ecotourism destination, particularly related to the population of Caribbean flamingoes and sea turtle nesting. The last decade has seen a 300% increase in tourism services, including hotels, restaurants as well as handicraft production.

    On the other hand, it has traditional fishing and salt mining activities, which have been gradually adjusting to sustainable practices. It also has very limited agricultural activities, in which a pre-Hispanic technique called ‘milpa’, consisting of slash and burn, is still present. The ‘milpas’ produce mostly corn, beans, pumpkins and peppers.





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    Last updated: October 2018