Mexico is among the world’s top five most biodiverse countries. This phenomenal biodiversity is due to Mexico’s highly varied topography and its geographic situation — it’s located where the Nearctic and Neotropical ecozones meet, so it has species that are endemic to both zones. Accordingly, there is also a huge array of ecosystems in Mexico. You’ll find wetlands, deserts, mountains, forests, jungles, islands, and coral reefs. It is a perfect destination for nature lovers who can explore the wide variety of options for adventure and ecotourism, and also enjoy quiet moments surrounded by natural beauty.
Mexico has more than 170 natural protected areas which make up over 12% of the country’s territory. Mexico’s natural protected areas come under a variety of classifications; they are biosphere reserves, national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, natural monuments, natural resource protected areas, and flora and fauna protected areas. The National Commission of Natural Protected Areas, or CONANP (Comisión Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas) is the government agency encharged with protecting Mexico’s natural treasures. Keeping in mind that many of the communities living in and around Mexico’s natural areas have survived by exploiting natural resources, an important part of CONANP’s plan for management of these areas involves the local communities, changing attitudes about natural resources, and presenting other options for making a living. In many cases, the answer is ecotourism, which, in the best cases is a win-win-win situation, helping to conserve the natural environment with its flora and fauna, benefiting the local people, as well as offering wonderful opportunities to travelers.
Of course, visiting these natural areas brings with it great responsibility. As tourists, we must not cause harm to the places we visit, the people, and other living things. To do this it is important that we respect the local culture and any restrictions which may be placed on visits, respect the local people and their privacy, stay on designated paths and avoid disturbing the wildlife. We can contribute to the local economy by purchasing crafts or other goods from the person who made them. Hopefully, by visiting respectfully, we can help to ensure that these places will be open to visitors for many years to come.
Mexico is a place where you can stand in a forest surrounded by fluttering butterflies, swim with the largest fish in the ocean, cheer on baby sea turtles as they make their way to the sea, take a boat ride through a spectacular canyon with 2600 feet-high walls, explore an underground river, hike up a snow-capped volcano, or simply marvel at gorgeous panoramas that defy description. This is but a small sampling of the variety of activities Mexico has to offer. It’s one of the richest countries in the world in terms of natural resources, diversity of landscapes, and natural beauty, and a not-to-be-missed destination for anyone who loves nature.