Quantifying the economic value of protected areas in Mexico

CSF worked with Mexico’s National Commission for Protected Areas (CONANP) and the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ) to assess the economic value of the ecosystem services provided by the country's Cabo Pulmo National Park, Iztaccíhuatl-Popocatépetl National Park (Izta-Popo for short), Cozumel Reefs National Park, and Cozumel Island Flora and Fauna Protected Area. These protected areas are emblematic of the importance and some of the main challenges facing Mexico’s protected areas: Cabo Pulmo, in the state of Baja California, is one of the richest marine areas and premier dive sites in the world; Izta-Popo protects the headwaters of two important watersheds and is a site of important scenic beauty, historical significance, and recreation within several hours of Mexico City; and Cozumel’s beaches and reefs make it one of the most heavily visited destinations in the Caribbean.

Valuation in this context seeks to directly inform decision-making, potentially related to addressing external pressures and to the Government’s return on investment in protect area management. The initial steps of the project, carried out with CONANP and GIZ staff, defined both which decisions that were evaluated, as well as which ecosystem services that were prioritized for analysis. Results included recommendations for each protected area, as well as related to scaling up the approach to other places.

The study was part of the project “EcoValor Mexico - Valuation of Ecosystem Services in Federal Protected Areas, Mexico: an innovative tool for financing of biodiversity and climate change,” commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). The project aimed to generate knowledge and communicate the value of the goods and services that Mexico’s protected areas provide to society. With this information it sought to coordinate activities among the three relevant levels of government and between different agencies within and outside the environmental sector, to include the approach of valuing ecosystem services in the formulation and implementation of public policies, and generate strategic results for mainstreaming biodiversity.

Read our article, A Business Case for Marine Protected Areas: Economic Valuation of the Reef Attributes of Cozumel Island, published in the journal Sustainability in 2021 here