Confronting Climate in Chiapas: Farmers, Ranchers Reforest Mountain Slopes

Written by Alejandro Hernandez on . Posted in Learn

Editor’s Note: Welcome back to Planet Change and The Nature Conservancy’s new-look blog landing page! Today, we share a view of our changing planet from Alejandro Hernandez, who works for The Nature Conservancy in Chiapas, Mexico. Check out this video to learn how farmers and ranchers are adopting new practices to make their lands more resilient to droughts, floods and mudslides. 

I was born in Mexico City, but my parents are from Chiapas and I was raised in Chiapas and Veracruz. Even when I was a teenager I always wished to go back to Chiapas to work for the protection of its wildlife and its forests. Before I joined The Nature Conservancy in June of 2011, I worked for many years in the El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve in the Sierra Madre, the mountain range along Chiapas’ Pacific coastline. This is a beautiful land; I was the director of this reserve for almost eight years. It’s one of the most diverse places in the Americas.  It is Paradise to me.

To show the mountains to people from other parts of the world – and to introduce them to the villagers who live here – is an unusual but gratifying experience. Sometimes I wonder how they see the world I grew up in. Do they understand why the Conservancy’s climate adaptation efforts are so important – to the land and the people?

This video is a special investigative report by Deutsche Welle TV, a global TV station based in Germany, on the initiative we help carry out in Chiapas with support from the German International Climate Initiative, one the major funders of the Conservancy’s climate adaptation program in the Chiapas Sierra Madre.  I spent five days with the crew making the video: one from Berlin, one from Argentina and one from Mexico. They had never been to Chiapas before.

The video is a good introduction to our work here. The Sierra Madre is near ground zero for climate change in Latin America. Our project involves helping villagers who make their living from ranching, growing coffee and other kinds of agriculture do a better job of managing their land. This means reforesting steep mountain slopes, changing grazing practices, identifying alternative livelihoods. We work with many partners, including state and federal government agencies and other NGOs.

We think our work could change the way government agencies address climate change throughout Mexico. Also, it could set an example for how other people in other countries will have to deal with the challenges of climate change.  It will be very important for us to continue to get support from other countries – so this video is not only informative but potentially very helpful to our ongoing efforts.

Alejandro Hernandez is The Nature Conservancy‘s Watershed Coordinator  for Mexico and Northern Central America, based in Tuxtla Gutierrez, capital of the state of Chiapas, Mexico.

Video: Deutsche Welle TV.

Photo by Danny Huynh/Students of the World (Alejandro Hernandez has returned to his family roots in Chiapas, Mexico to help protect the Sierra Madre region from a rapidly changing climate.)

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Comments (2)

  • king sheq


    Congrat Alex! Excellent work you’ve done for the conservation of El Triunfo


  • Gabriella Bertelmann


    Loved your article and the work you are doing, it is heart warming and encouraging to hear. I would love to support and contribute to these efforts in concrete ways, as they represent what I most deeply believe in – to honor our Mother Earth. Please call on me anytime.
    Kind regards, Gabriella


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About Planet Change

Planet Change is a Nature Conservancy blog site designed to share stories about actions the Conservancy and others around the world are taking to fight carbon pollution and the impacts of climate change, and to help people feel the connections between climate change and their daily lives and understand actions they can take.

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