Mexico City, Mar 15 (EFE).- California Mediterranea, a treasure trove of biodiversity in Mexico’s northwestern corner, is under threat from runaway development, Mexican naturalist and environmentalist Cesar Garcia Valderrama told EFE.
The region extends from the US-Mexico border on the Pacific coast eastward to the Juarez and San Pedro Martir mountains, an expanse of 25,000 sq. km. (15,534.3 sq. mi.)
California Mediterranea is regarded as “one of the 31 richest biodiversity spots on the planet,” Garcia said, attributing the wide range of vegetation to the variety of climates.
Rattlesnakes, beaded lizards, ring-tailed cats, roadrunners, kit foxes and bighorn sheep can be found in the scrublands, while forest fauna includes Bailey’s pocket mice, San Lorenzo mice, bats, grey foxes, shrews, bobcats, pumas, badgers and mule deer.
Some endangered animals also inhabit the region, like pronghorn antelopes, woodrats and Guadalupe fur seals.
Close to 4,500 native plant species are also found in the region.
Mediterranean climates are characterized by rainy winters and dry, hot summers.
Other Mediterranean regions on the planet include southwest Australia, the central coast of Chile, the Cape region in South Africa, and the western part of the US state of California.
Garcia said that the Mexican Mediterranean region is unique because of its vegetation and biodiversity, although he warned that “it is a place that has been affected by urban sprawl and industrialization, as well as other human activities, which have made it one of the most threatened regions on the planet.”
Deforestation is another major problem in California Mediterranea, as every year mountains and valleys are cleared to make room for agriculture and urban sprawl.
Nevertheless, Garcia explained that “the Mexican side of the region still has very good conservation areas,” as opposed to the US side.