Part of a plantation at the Botanic Garden, El Charco del Ingenio, San Miguel de Allende, of 500 golden barrels (Echinocactus grusonii) whose natural habitat is currently under the waters of the new Zimapan dam on the border between Queretaro and Hidalgo.
Botanica, Universidad de Guadalajara; Universidad Autonoma Agraria Antonio Narra; and Can Te, A.C., but this has so far been on a somewhat random basis. The sheer number of plants involved can place a strain on existing resources of the botanic gardens.
In Mexico there is extensive nursery production of plants for the domestic market, but little of this has been devoted to cacti and other succulent plants. Until recently there were only two commercial nurseries propagating succulents from seed and cuttings. The situation is now changing with a rapidly increasing consumer interest in native succulents. This coincides with intensified efforts by the Mexican authorities to control the trade in wild-collected plants. Sixteen nurseries have made application to the authorities for permission to propagate succulent plants (see Annex 12). Although still small, the industry shows good growth potential.
Main agencies involved in conservation
The main governmental agency responsible for conservation in Mexico is the Consejo Nacional de
Ciencias y Technologia (CONACYT). Both SEMARNAP and the Secretary of Agriculture (Secretaria de Agricultura y Recursos Hidraulicos or SARH) are responsible for the control of the use of Mexico's natural flora; the direct concern lies with SEMARNAP. Many other governmental agencies are directly and indirectly involved.
In addition to the governmental agencies a number of universities and many non-governmental organisations are active in conservation efforts relating to succulent plants. These include:
Departamento de Botánico, Instituto de Biología de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) houses the National Herbarium of Mexico, which has the largest collection of Mexican plants (over 550,000 specimens), including an important set of herbarium specimens of Cactaceae, Agavaceae, Crassulaceae, and several other succulent plant families. A research group at this institution is devoted to generate basic information on the taxonomy, biogeography, and ecology of rare and endangered cacti, particularly from the Chihuahuan Desert Region. Also this group has developed the largest database of herbarium collections of North and Central
oj America, currently containing over 9500 records from 33
§ institutional herbaria.
Jardín Botánico del Znstituto de Biología de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) in Mexico City has a well-established and active conservation programme relating to the study and conservation of cacti and other succulents. Activities include:
study of the cactus flora of Meso-America, including field collections for the National Herbarium;
• study of the biogeography, distribution and conservation status of the cacti of the Tehuacan Valley, and the development of a proposed protected area;
publication of scientific materials on succulents;
• maintenance of the national collection for Agavaceae; propagation of endangered cacti including the development of tissue culture techniques; development of educational materials relating to cacti and agaves.
Can Te, A.C., a non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to conservation, has a newly formed botanic garden that is taking a lead in succulent conservation work. Several important salvage operations have been carried out, and rescued plants are now being propagated. Can Te, A.C. also provides information on propagation to producers and collectors, for example, to the crystallised fruit manufacturers mentioned above. Can Te, A.C. also has a program, 'Comprar para Conservar' or 'Purchase to Preserve', encouraging people to contribute financially toward the purchase of threatened habitats.
Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas - botanists from this university have been carrying out detailed population studies on endangered cacti in the Jaumave area.
Sociedad Mexicana de Cactáceas, the main specialist society for succulent plants in Mexico. It is involved in the dissemination of information on Mexican cacti and other succulents and their conservation.
Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas (CIB) in La Paz -
carries out ecological studies of cacti in the Baja California area.
Universidad de Guadalajara, where studies are carried out on the cactus flora of Jalisco and the propagation of endemic species.
ITESM-Campus Querétaro carries out studies on the cacti of Queretaro, undertakes propagation activities, maintains a small gene bank, and has an education programme about cacti of the state.
The authors would like to acknowledge the following people for kindly providing additional information and review of this section: Salvador Arias, Helia Bravo H., Robert Bye, Federico Gama, Abisai Garcia Mendoza, Keith Gardner, Charles Glass, Kenneth Heil, Hector M. Hernandez , Wendy Hodgson, George Lindsay, Reid Moran, and Gary Nabhan.
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