TO DO Award 2013 Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda, Mexico
GRUPO ECOLÓGICO SIERRA GORDA (GESG) was initiated in order to improve the living conditions of the population in the Sierra Gorda, a mountain region in the North of Mexico, in the state of Querétaro. In as early as 1997, an area of almost 3,900 km² with about 95,000 inhabitants was declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve. In this way, people‘s use of natural resources was to be aligned with the objectives of nature protection and the conservation of ecosystems. The participation of the local population is an integral component of the concept. By slowly developing alternative income opportunities, large scale (illegal) logging was stopped. The financial dependence on the remittances (»remesas«) by migrant family members was reduced. First they ensured tourism products and services of a minimum quality, both in terms of accommodation as well as in the catering sector. Apart from archaeological sites and the old Franciscan missions, tourism sites in the region also include small museums, regional handicraft, and not least the »Ruta del Sabor« (»route of taste«) with special gastronomic offers. Most of the about 75 small (micro) scale enterprises are in the hands of women. The Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda supports initiatives for example by providing small loans, through training programmes, or marketing. Under the given circumstances, a tourism development like this can be initiated only by the people. The various activities are now coordinated by the umbrella organisation »Alliance for the protection of the Sierra Gorda« which has emerged in the meantime.
Martha Isabel Ruiz Corzo
Gruopo Ecológico Sierra Gorda I.A.P.
Av. La Presa S/N, Barrio El Panteón
Jalpan de Serra