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An international team of 29 scientists from 19 institutions, led by BRIT Biodiversity Explorer, Dr. Sula Vanderplank, has recently published the results of a biodiversity survey inside the Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere Reserve in Baja California Sur, Mexico. These biodiversity experts undertook an eight-day expedition to address an immediate threat at the request of, and in collaboration with, the Mexican Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP). Just over five square kilometers within the buffer zone of the UNESCO world heritage site are currently slated for development as the open pit gold mine "Los Cardones." Spear-headed by one of Mexico’s acclaimed conservationists, Dr. Exequiel Ezcurra, the findings support the prior designation as a protected area by Mexican and international bodies.
The multi-day bioblitz documented the presence of more than 877 species, including more than 381 plants, 29 mammals, 77 birds, 366 insects, and 24 reptiles and amphibians. The majority of this diversity was found associated with the La Junta riparian system at the core of the proposed mine site. Twenty-nine species, protected under Mexican law due to their inclusion on the endangered species list (NOM 059), were discovered inside the project footprint along with 107 species endemic to the Cape Region of Baja California Sur. The scientists stress that while hundreds of plants and animals were documented, these findings represent just a fraction of the true diversity of the site, especially true for insect and invertebrate diversity that may exceed 2000 described species in the study area.
The environmental impact statement for the mine approved by Mexican Ministry of the Environment SEMARNAT on 12 June 2014 included just 220 species. Compared to the recently published study the MIA has 726 omissions. As of July 2016, final approval of the Los Cardones mine project is still pending permits from other national government commissions such as the National Commission for Water, CONAGUA, and Baja California Sur state authorities.
Arroyo La Junta - Download