Why Central America and Mexico?

EcoLogic works in Central America and Mexico—the region collectively known as Mesoamerica—because it is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world, but also because its people struggle with great social and economic inequality. Many rural areas are poor and under-served. The people we work with face food insecurity and water shortages, and the region is extremely vulnerable to the devastating impacts of climate change. Yet even in the face of these challenges, we see that local communities to choose to protect nature when they have the opportunity, time and time again.

During the last century, 80 percent of original forest in Central America and Mexico has been destroyed. Threats and challenges like deforestation, population growth, and unsustainable agricultural practices persist across the region, threatening not only the future of these once diverse and flourishing ecosystems, but also the peoples who depend on them for survival.

Species_richness_map_SED

This map illustrates levels of species richness in Mesoamerica. Created by Strategies for Equitable Development.

These ecosystems are some of the most biologically diverse in the world, and their impact is substantial—both locally and globally. For instance, tropical forests like those found in Mesoamerica and Panama absorb close to 18 percent of all carbon dioxide added to our atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. In addition, the forests, wetlands, and grasslands not only provide a livelihood and natural resources to many rural and indigenous communities but also serve as home to thousands of different species of birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, and plants many of which are now endangered.

The struggle between poverty and the natural environment is particularly pronounced in this region, with the relationship between economic hardship and the state of local ecosystems deeply rooted. The rural and indigenous peoples that call these ecosystems home often are poor and lack the tools or alternatives to evaluate and protect against natural resource degradation. For families struggling to survive, protecting nature may not be a priority, but the consequences of continued unsustainable exploitation is further hardship for these people, who depend so much on their natural environment. And as poverty persists, the pressure on remaining ecosystems, natural resources and biodiversity persists, continuing the cycle of destruction.

EcoLogic recognizes that because of their close ties to and their dependence on the natural environment, the rural and indigenous peoples in Central America and Mexico are perfectly poised to be the ones to protect the ecosystems in which they live—improving their lives as well as the condition of the ecosystems around them.

For these reasons, EcoLogic continues to work with and support the people living in and around Central America and Mexico’s tropical ecosystems. Expansion to other parts of the world may someday be our target, but currently EcoLogic believes it is critically important to focus our expertise on Central America and southern Mexico, building upon our 20-plus years of developing effective and proven solutions for both people and nature.

Mangrove with text

More about the region where EcoLogic works: Endangered Species Where We Work | Indigenous Peoples | Landscape-Level ChangeWhat is a Mangrove?