Grammy Award-winning Maná, based in Guadalajara, Mexico, has always been committed to environmental projects in the region. It says this project, which emerges from research carried out under the UK Government's Darwin Initiative since 2009, is one of the most important it has undertaken.
The project, which has also been given the endorsement of Mexico's President, Felipe Calderón, gives much needed support to an area of Mexico, La Primavera Forest, that has recently been devastated by fire. It also links closely to the theme of 'green economies', and the interaction between environment and economy, which features strongly in this week's Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.
It is based on research, led by Professor Jon Lovett, of the University of Twente, in the Netherlands, and coordinated by Arturo Balderas Torres in Mexico looking at the potential to engage citizens with local forest owners and communities to compensate them for the ecological services they receive while promoting rural development.
In collaboration with the Mexican University of ITESO, the Darwin Initiative project conducted a study in an area of Western Mexico called La Primavera, an important biosphere reserve near the city of Guadalajara, to find out whether direct links could be made between citizens, who enjoy the benefits of having La Primavera national park on their doorsteps and landowners who work to improve biodiversity.
The model proposed by the team's research envisages local payment schemes for the services provided by the reserve, such as carbon sequestration to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, that would be used to directly compensate landowners who manage their land to promote conservation and biodiversity rather than simple profitability.
Balderas Torres lecturer at ITESO and pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Twente, says: "These local schemes could have a huge impact for development, conservation and climate change mitigation. It is more sensible for people paying to enhance public goods such as carbon and biodiversity when they can also have direct access to other benefits, such as being able to visit La Primavera and enjoy its natural beauties and improved air quality."
The concept appealed to members of Maná, who, in 1995, established the Selva Negra Ecologic Foundation, an organisation that finances and supports important projects aimed at protecting the environment.
With the assistance of Selva Negra the Darwin Initiative research has been carried forwards into a pilot project spearheaded by Maná as they complete their Drama y Luz World Tour.
The band have estimated the cost of the carbon emissions and other environmental impacts caused during the tour and will make a contribution to mitigation activities that can be carried out locally, in a community located in one of the unprotected wildlife corridors near to La Primavera. The money paid by Maná will contribute to a £0.5 million development and conservation project that will see over 1000 hectares conserved and 80 hectares replanted.
Fher Olvera, lead singer of Maná, says: "This is one of the most important projects we have undertaken. It shows the way forward by taking practical, concrete, actions. It is not only about being committed to protecting the environment, but also protecting the livelihoods of people and their connection with nature."
"It is not often that research is transformed into implementation so quickly and we are very grateful to Maná and Selva Negra whose support gives us an excellent example of how the model works in practice", says Professor Lovett. "The project is also very timely, the huge international Rio +20 meeting will take place in June this year. One of the main themes will be on the interaction between the environment and the economy. Here in La Primavera that linkage is being made through the Maná project. Everyone benefits: the farmers receive compensation for help to mitigate climate change by planting trees; the planet benefits from removal of greenhouse gases; and biodiversity benefits from the increased forest cover."
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