Mexico unveils wetlands protection plan

Campeche, Mexico, Feb 5 (EFE).- The National Protected Natural Areas Commission, or Conanp, has released a plan to protect the 139 wetlands in Mexico, the country with the second-largest number of protected wetlands in the world.

"The national wetlands policy comes from a recognition that these ecosystems are extremely vulnerable to climate change," Conanp director Luis Fueyo said during the plan's presentation Tuesday in the Igh-Haa Lol Xaan region of the southeastern state of Campeche.

Wetlands are vital to the well-being of Mexico's people, "making their loss extremely costly from an economic, social and environmental standpoint," Fueyo said.

The plan's goals are to ensure the rational and sustainable use of wetlands, as well as to prevent and mitigate threats to wetlands, the Conanp director said.

Mexico ranks No. 2 on the list of protected wetlands areas under the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty on the conservation and sustainable use of these ecosystems.

Mexico has protected nearly 9 million hectares (more than 22.2 million acres) under the 1971 Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat, as the treaty is officially known.

The national wetlands policy set a series of strategic goals, courses of action and targets to guide the federal government in working with state and local officials, businesses and Indian communities, among other stakeholders, Fueyo said.

"Wetlands are one of the most important ecosystems we have on our planet, especially in Mexico, since the environmental goods and services they provide are vital for the welfare of society and the conservation of biological diversity," the Conanp director said.

The Profepa environmental protection agency has timed the rollout of its national wetlands campaign to coincide with the plan's release, Fueyo said.

Profepa plans to inspect 53 wetlands in 24 states in an effort to identify illegal activities.