Sierra de Tapalpa: an example of how to measure sustainability progress at the landscape level
Since 2020, Rainforest Alliance has been working alongside local stakeholders to drive improvements in sustainability, from the grassroots to the landscape level in Sierra de Tapalpa, a rich but also fragile ecosystem located in the region of Jalisco, Mexico.
As part of this work, they have used LandScale, a tool that helps to measure landscape-level sustainability, to design, monitor and evaluate the landscape-scale interventions that are being carried out.
LandScale: a tool to measure sustainability progress and target action in complex landscape areas
The Sierra de Tapalpa has a remarkable richness of fauna and flora. With a diversity of ecosystems and species (40 per cent of which are endemic to Mexico), it functions as an invaluable ecological corridor between important natural areas in the region of Jalisco, Mexico.
Due to its ample potential for the development of economic activities, it is also a fragile landscape that faces multiple challenges. Deforestation caused by land use change, high pressure on water resources, uncontrolled urban expansion, and growing tourism and unsustainable agricultural practices are significant threats for both biodiversity and human wellbeing in Sierra de Tapalpa.
As LandScale measures sustainability across four pillars -ecosystem health, human wellbeing, governance and production- it provides holistic insights into the interrelations between different challenges and opportunities across a landscape.
For the Sierra de Tapalpa, LandScale assessment results provided knowledge on the status and trends of multiple dimensions of sustainability and helped identifying the highest priorities to be addressed. These include promoting the:
• balance between rural and agro-industrial productivity with the preservation of the natural heritage
• sustainable management of ecosystems and their biodiversity, as well as the appreciation of the goods and services these provide
• most effective land use regulations and building collaborative relationships that favor high social well-being and improvements in the quality of life in the region
• strengthened appreciation of a local collective identity and cultural heritage that makes an exceptional region
• effective governance and water management with a focus on the watershed, considering water as a priority element for sustaining the landscape.
Watch LandScale’s video to find more about the project progress.
The actions and targets set have allowed Rainforest Alliance to measure the results and demonstrate that combining the preservation, restoration, and sustainable management of forests with high-productivity agriculture can lead to better outcomes in terms of productivity, environmental benefits, and social justice.
LandScale and the integrated landscape management initiative in Sierra de Tapalpa are supported by BHP Foundation’s Environmental Resilience Program that supports new ways of conserving and sustainably managing large-scale, globally significant natural environments for the benefit of future generations. Learn more.