August 7, 2017 – For Royal Resorts supporting conservation in the Mexican Caribbean has been a labor of many years. The Royal Resorts Foundation recently donated $222,905 pesos to Cancun conservation group Amigos de Sian Ka’an, A.C. to further its work to protect jungle, wetland and marine ecosystems in the state of Quintana Roo and the creatures that inhabit them.

A Mexican Caribbean conservation pioneer, Amigos de Sian Ka’an turned 31 in June. Founded in 1986 to watch over the state’s new biosphere reserve Sian Ka’an, “Amigos” has been involved in the groundwork and campaigning for the creation of a chain of reserves in the state, including Uaymil, Contoy, Arrecifes de Sian Ka’an, Arrecifes de Xcalak, Balan Ka’ax and Cozumel, an area representing more than 1.1 million hectares. Most recently, it was a consultant for the Mexican Caribbean Biosphere Reserve, which was designated by presidential decree in 2016. This new reserve will give much-needed protection to 23,000 hectares of marsh and mangrove, more than 300 kilometers of coral reef and the Arrowsmith Bank.

Amigos de Sian Ka’an staff and volunteers are involved in projects ranging from research and wildlife studies, an environmental services payment program for protecting the jungle to mapping the network of underground river systems in the area and developing a water management plan with local authorities and the private sector to protect the aquifer from pollution. It has an environmental awareness program in the community to spread the conservation message. It has a team working on sustainable development projects in Mayan communities to provide better economic opportunities for inhabitants through tourism, agriculture and the sale of crafts and other products made in the villages.

Another team of marine biologists monitors the health of the Mesoamerican Reef and marine life in 25 different reef sites in Sian Ka’an and the Riviera Maya. They have discovered that the health of Sian Ka’an reefs has not changed in the last five years but that overall 53 percent of corals in the areas monitored are suffering from bleaching as a result of rising sea temperatures, one of the consequences of global warming.

In 2016, Amigos de Sian Ka’an helped eradicate casuarina pine trees from the island of Holbox. Casuarinas are an non-native and extremely invasive species that spreads quickly and takes over, to the detriment of the mangrove forest.

Another Amigos recent project focused on the south of the state: three cays in the Banco Chinchorro atoll are now free of rats and feral cats; as a result crab and lizard populations are already rebounding.

Amigos de Sian Ka’an received the 2016 Skål Sustainable Tourism award for Maya Ka’an, a community tourism initiative in Sian Ka’an and central Quintana Roo.

A longtime supporter of Amigos de Sian Ka’an, the Royal Resorts Foundation joined forces with it in a conservation program to preserve areas of tropical forest in areas of northern Quintana Roo under threat from development, protect wildlife, including rare species such as the jaguar, and the aquifers that supply water to Cancun, Isla Mujeres and the Riviera Maya.

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