The Yucatán Peninsula has an area of almost 134,400 sq. km (51,892 sq. miles) which spans the Mexican states of Yucatán, Campeche, and Quintana Roo; the northern part of Belize; and Guatemala's northern department of El Petén. The peninsula also has approximately 1,600km (1,000 miles) of coastline and a very unique geology. Composed almost entirely of limestone most of the Yucatan has no surface water because all of the rainwater drains through fissures in the limestone to an underground system of streams and lakes so vast it contains about 25 percent of Mexico’s total fresh water supply. Ecologically, the Yucatan Peninsula is composed of a complex mosaic of dry forests, lowland moist forest, and montane forests with intermittent coastal swamps and mangrove forests that fringe the Caribbean coast. The Yucatan is also located within the Mesoamerican Biodiversity Hotspot and has high levels of species endemism. Unfortunately, over the past several decades the Yucatan has seen some of the highest deforestation rates in the world, in addition to rampant development for tourism infrastructure and large numbers of forest fires.
The Yucatan RAVE will focus on documenting the threats posed by deforestation, tourism, and forest fires on existing protected areas, important unprotected areas (i.e. corridors) and specific flagship species (i.e. Jaguar) throughout the Yucatan. The themes and threats of the RAVE include: Underground Wilderness, Impact of Tourism & Tourism Infrastructure Development, Coastal Environment, Freshwater, Mesoamerican Tropical Forests, Mayan Sites, Saltwater Intrusion, Ecological Impacts from Hurricanes, Habitat Fragmentation, Tourism Development, Mangrove Destruction, Coastal Island Development, and Biodiversity loss. To address those themes and threats the following geographic areas and species will be the primary focus of the Yucatan RAVE: Cenotes, Caves, Mangroves, Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, Calakmul-Sian Ka’an Corridor, Rio Lagunas, Holbox, Celestun, Chetumal, Sierra Caral, Amphibians, Jaguar, Manatees, Flamingos, Monkeys, Crocodiles, Whale Sharks, and Bats.
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