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Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve, Mexico

The Tehuacán-Cuicatlán biosphere reserve is located in a complex system of mountain ranges and valleys generating a great biodiversity and different ecosystems. The region has played an important role in the development of agriculture in Mesoamerica.



Surface : 490,186.875 ha

  • Core area(s): 141,781.711 ha
  • Buffer zone(s): 348,405.161 ha
  • Transition zone(s): 324,045.46 ha

Location: 18°12’41”N - 97°23’58” W

Administrative Authorities

Comisión Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas

Luis Fueyo Mac Donald

Comisionado Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas
Camino al Ajusco No. 200, Col, Jardines en la Montaña
Delegación Tlalpan, C.P.
14200 Ciudad de México, Distrito Federal.

Tel.: (55) 54 49 70 00

Email: N/A

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Ecological Characteristics

The biosphere reserve is bounded on the west by the Sierra Mixteca and on the east by three mountain ranges: Sierra Zongolica in the north, Mazatec Sierra in the middle and the Sierra de Juarez in the south. The most outstanding mountain range is  the Sierra Zongolica and the Sierra Mazatec, which is characterized by its karst topography, cut by deep canyons.

One of the most exceptional ecological features from the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán valley is its columnar cacti forest, one of the highest concentrations of columnar cacti in the world. Fort-five of the seventy species reported in Mexico are in this central portion of the country.These species are the dominant component in a total of nine plant communities to be mostly endemic to Tehuacán-Cuicatlán. The area also contains xeric bushes, tropical deciduous forest, pine forest, pine-oak and cloud forest.

Among vertebrates, the biosphere reserve has 18 fish species and 27 amphibian species, which is a high diversity compared to the deserts of North America and Australia. It has also 85 reptile species, of which 20 are endemic and 338 bird species, of which 16 are endemic.

Due to its endemic species, endangered species, and its rare floristic species, the site is an IUCN world biodiversity hotspot.



Socio-Economic Characteristics

The Tehuacán – Cuicatlán valley is considered a key site for the origin and development of agriculture in Mesoamerica and has provided important information about the domestication of different species such as maize (Zea mays), pepper (Capsicum annum), amaranth (Amaranthus sp.), avocado (Persea americana), pumpkin (Cucurbita sp.) and beans (Phaseolussp.). 

The biosphere reserve has a total population of 35,700 people including eight different indigenous groups. Most of the population living in the reserve depend on agricultural activities for their livelihoods. The main activities are the collection of wild fruits and seeds, seasonal agriculture and irrigation, raising goats, cattle and horses, and the extraction of stone materials and forestry to obtain firewood and timber. 








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Last updated: December 2018