CEPF
Protecting Nature's Hotspots for people and prosperity

Mesoamerica

Tab 1

Overview
Resplendent quetzal

CEPF is no longer active in this region.

Spanning most of Central America, the Mesoamerica biodiversity hotspot encompasses all subtropical and tropical ecosystems from central Mexico to the Panama Canal. This includes all of Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, as well as a third of Mexico and nearly two-thirds of Panama.

The hotspot harbors the highest montane forests of Central America, with the most extensive and best-protected cloud forests. Forming a land bridge between continents, the hotspot features species representative of North and South America, as well as its own unique wildlife.

Some of the most visible symbols of mammal diversity in Mesoamerica are its monkeys, including the Central American spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) and Mexican black howler monkey (Alouatta pigra), which produce impressive roars that can be heard for long distances. Among the best known birds from this region is the resplendent quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno) pictured above. Its brilliant green and crimson plumage is the national emblem of Guatemala.

Mesoamerica also exhibits some of the highest deforestation rates in the world. Other direct threats to the region’s natural assets include illegal logging and occupation of land, uncontrolled tourism, oil drilling and pipelines, and unsustainable agricultural practices.

Our support to civil society here focuses on priority areas for conservation in both the northern and southern regions of this hotspot.

Tab 2

Strategy
Crown of emergent rainforest tree

We have separate but complementary strategies for the northern and southern regions of the Mesoamerica Hotspot based on ecosystem profiles developed with stakeholders.

In Northern Mesoamerica, our support to civil society began in 2004 and focuses primarily on the highest priority areas for conservation in Belize, Guatemala and Southern Mexico.

We target two major landscapes: the Selva Maya biodiversity conservation corridor extending throughout the southeast of Mexico over the province of Petén in Guatemala and throughout Belize and the Selva Zoque and the Chiapas/Guatemala Highlands Corridor. The latter includes the key biodiversity areas of the Selva Zoque in Oaxaca; Chiapas and Veracruz; the Sierra Madre of Chiapas; and Cuchumatanes and the Sierra de las Minas in Guatemala.

Four strategic directions guide our approach in the northern region:

  1. Foster civil society participation in regional decisionmaking on select policies and investments to promote the conservation and sustainable development of the Selva Maya and the Selva Zoque and Chiapas/Guatemala Highlands corridors.
  2. Collaborate with other donor-funded projects to facilitate and operationalize successful conservation activities in Northern Mesoamerica’s eight most important key biodiversity areas.
  3. Support priority conservation actions in three priority key biodiversity areas.
  4. Prevent the extinction of Northern Mesoamerica’s 106 Critically Endangered species (including in El Salvador and Honduras).

In Southern Mesoamerica, we focus on three priority landscapes in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. These are the Cerro Silva-Indio Maiz-La Selva corridor between Nicaragua and Costa Rica; the southern Talamanca region connecting with the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica; and the northern Talamanca-Bocas del Toro corridor between Costa Rica and Panama.

Four strategic directions have guided our approach in the southern region since investment began in 2002:

  1. Strengthen key conservation alliances and networks within integral corridors.
  2. Integrate connectivity among key, critical areas through economic alternatives.
  3. Promote awareness and conservation of flagship species.
  4. Support improved management of key protected areas.

In 2008, we began implementing a fifth strategic direction in Southern Mesoamerica to reinforce and sustain gains made possible by our previous $5.5 million investment. This new strategic direction includes targeted grants to selected organizations based on a consolidation plan drawing from the original ecosystem profile and an assessment of our previous investment.

Tab 3

Priorities

Northern Mesoamerica Priorities:

 

CEPF STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS CEPF INVESTMENT PRIORITIES
1.  Foster civil society participation in regional decisionmaking on select policies and investments to promote the conservation and sustainable development of the Selva Maya and the Selva Zoque and Chiapas/Guatemala Highlands corridors 1.1  Promote policy reforms that integrate biodiversity conservation in agriculture, infrastructure development, forest fires and tourism
1.2  Develop and strengthen collaborative networks that enable civil society to influence investments with corridor-wide impacts (such as Mundo Maya, PPP, CAFTA) and to foster coordination of current activities
1.3  Build and support action-oriented associations focused on conservation-based enterprises to identify and share lessons learned and to facilitate their growth
1.4  Promote the introduction and use of new sustainable conservation financing mechanisms, focusing on payments for environmental services. *CEPF will not provide funding for the actual payments, but will fund analysis and promotion of different models
1.5  Support corridor-level biological and environmental management monitoring relevant for understanding the state of biodiversity conservation for decisionmaking
2.  Collaborate with other donor-funded projects to facilitate and operationalize successful conservation activities in Northern Mesoamerica's eight most important key biodiversity areas 2.1  Increase coordination of key stakeholder groups to plan and implement initiatives in the eight priority key biodiversity areas
2.2  Increase local government and NGO capacity for forest fire prevention and control, enforcement of land tenure laws and the prevention of illegal hunting and timber harvesting
2.3  Build civil society capacity to support the mitigation of impacts of proposed infrastructure projects on biodiversity, focusing on roads and dams
2.4  Assess the adequacy of coverage of protected areas, and lay the groundwork for declaration of new private and public reserves
3.  Support priority conservation actions in three priority key biodiversity areas 3.1  Strengthen management of Sierra de las Minas in areas such as facilitating payments for watershed services, stakeholder coordination, and reduction in timber harvesting
3.2   Strengthen management of Laguna del Tigre in areas such as fire management, conflict resolution and economic alternatives to deforestation
3.3  Strengthen management of Chiquibul/Montañas Mayas in areas such as xate harvesting and the protection of the Macal River valley
4.  Support efforts to prevent the extinction of Northern Mesoamerica’s 106 Critically Endangered species 4.1  Improve protection of Critically Endangered species through enhanced knowledge of their conservation needs, increased local capacity to conserve these species and investments in field conservation and protection projects
4.2  Increase coordination of efforts to improve the protection of critically endangered species through the exchange and consolidation of data and information

 

 
Southern Mesoamerica Priorities:

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CEPF STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS CEPF INVESTMENT PRIORITIES
1.  Strengthen key conservation alliances and networks within integral corridors 1.1  Support existing alliances such as the Talamanca/Osa/Bocas regional alliance, Osa alliance and Northern Costa Rica working alliance to further key common agendas in advocacy, communication and land tenure efforts through targeted civil society efforts
1.2  Create a coordinating group, led by the NGO community, that will guide conservation actions In the Cerro Silva-Indio Maiz-La Selva Corridor
1.3  Support a civil society effort to integrate and incorporate NGO concerns into CCAD and PPP efforts
2.  Connect critical areas through economic alternatives 2.1  Support NGO efforts to evaluate modalities for establishing additional private conservation areas to integrate connectivity among key areas
2.2  Support civil society efforts and community efforts to establish best practices in coffee, cocoa, and tourism in areas of potential connectivity
3.  Promote awareness and conservation of flagship species 3.1  Implement awareness programs focused on flagship species in order to improve public understanding of the value of biodiversity
3.2  In coordination with UNDP's Small Grants Program, establish an emergency fund to support projects that will help protect critically endangered species
4.  Support improved management of key protected areas 4.1  Support civil society efforts to create participatory management plans in target areas and provide opportunities for civil society to participate in government led planning processes
4.2  Support civil society efforts to establish the Maquenque National Park in northern Costa Rica
4.3  Support civil society efforts to establish protected areas within the Ngobe-Bugle indigenous territory
4.4  Support efforts by the NGO and private sector community to provide financial incentives for private reserves and conservation set-asides
4.5  Support targeted civil society efforts to implement discreet elements of existing management plans
5.  Reinforce and sustain the conservation gains achieved as a result of the initial 5-year CEPF investment in this region 5.1  Support civil society participation in development planning and implementation, focusing particularly on infrastructure projects in southeast Nicaragua and La Amistad in Panama
5.2  Strengthen local governance structures and management capacity in critical areas, focusing primarily on indigenous reserves along the Caribbean
5.3  Build local capacity within the civil society sector
5.4  Support the establishment of sustainable financing mechanisms

Tab 4

Maps
Mesoamerica Biodiversity Hotspot

 




Forest Cover and Change data on CI's Learning Network: mexico (5 southern states), Belize, selected gt KBA's, c.1990-c.2000 (WinZip File - 31 MB)

 


 

more maps

Conservation Outcomes for Northern Mesoamerica, July 2005. Map (PDF - 2.5 MB)

Tab 5

Documents

Northern Mesoamerica

Core Documents

Monitoring & Evaluation

  • Assessing Five Years of CEPF Investment in Northern Mesoamerica, January 2010, English (PDF - 393 KB) / Español (PDF - 377 KB)

  • Assessing Five Years of CEPF Investment in Southern Mesoamerica, April 2007 
    English (PDF - 320 KB)

  • Portfolio Overview, as of January 2005
    English (PDF - 184 KB)
    - Full related briefing book
    English (PDF - 2.8 MB)

  • Project Final Reports
    Compiled by project leaders detailing final results and lessons learned
    View reports

Southern Mesoamerica

Core Documents

Monitoring & Evaluation

  • Final Portfolio Overview, Southern Mesoamerica Hotspot
    January 2014
    English (PDF - 812 KB)

  • Annual Portfolio Overview, Southern Mesoamerica Hotspot
    December 2011
    English (PDF - 244 KB)

  • Annual Portfolio Overview, Southern Mesoamerica  Hotspot
    March 2010
    English (PDF - 107 KB)

  • Assessing Five Years of CEPF Investment in the Mesoamerica Biodiversity Hotspot (Southern Mesoamerica), April 2007
    English (PDF - 320 KB)

  • CEPF and Poverty Reduction: A Review of the Southern Mesoamerica CEPF Portfolio, September 2005
    English (PDF - 529 KB)

  • Portfolio Overview, as of January 2005
    English (PDF - 269 KB)
    - Full related briefing book
    English (PDF - 10 MB)

  • Project Final Reports
    Compiled by project leaders detailing final results and lessons learned
    View reports

Newsletters Other Publications
  • Conservation Dialogues, Southern Mesoamerican Region
    English (PDF - 192 KB) | Español (PDF - 194 KB), Rainforest Alliance

  • A Vision for the Future, An Agenda for Today: Maya, Zoque and Olmec Forests Ecoregional Plan
    English (PDF - 1.9 MB) Editors: Fernando Secaira, Marie Claire Paiz, and Gabriela Hernández. The Nature Conservancy, 2006. 32 pages.

Tab 6

 
 
 
 
 
Fast Facts

Status: Closed

Initial investment:
  • $12.8 million
  • 2002-2007
  • 129 grants
Consolidation:
  • ​$1.7 million
  • 2008-2011
  • 7 grants​
Regional Resources
Featured Stories​

Project database

Northern Mesoamerica
Ecosystem profile, January 2004
Publications

Southern Mesoamerica
Consolidation program, June 2008
Ecosystem profile, December 2001 
Publications

 
Photos: Resplendent quetzal © Michael & Patricia Fogden/Minden Pictures; Crown of emergent rainforest tree, Costa Rica © Gerry Ellis/Minden Pictures