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Ajos-Bavispe National Forest

Calakmul Biosphere Reserve

Cuatro Ciénegas

El Ocote Biosphere Reserve

El Pinacate Biosphere Reserve

El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve

La Encrucijada Biosphere

Loreto Bay/Isla Espiritu Santo

Ría Celestún & Ría Lagartos

Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve

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El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve

The biological splendor of El Triunfo is world-renowned. Straddling the Sierra Madre Mountains in the southern state of Chiapas, the reserve protects cloud, tropical and oak-pine forests, as well as hydrologic systems that are vitally important to both local ecology and human populations. The area collects 10 percent of the rainfall in all of Mexico which is then collected by the Rio Grijalva, providing 30 percent of the country’s hydroelectricity.

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Since El Triunfo’s creation, when landowners requested to be part of the reserve, effective conservation has relied heavily on community participation. Today, a Technical Advisory Council of landowners and community authorities assists in managing the reserve.

Cloud forest, El Triunfo

Cloud Forest in El Triunfo © Joe Keenan/TNC


site profile

total area protected:
295,000 acres
map of site

Central American Pine-Oak Forest, Chiapas Depression Dry Forest & Sierra Madre Moist Forest

partner organization:
Instituto de Historia Natural (IHN)

Ecological Importance

Located in the transition zone between the Neoarctic and Neotropical biogeographical regions, the Sierra Madre mountains of Chiapas capture the northern and southernmost range extensions of many species of flora and fauna. Protecting some of the last remaining tracts of Central American cloud forest and Pacific Coast tropical evergreen forest, El Triunfo is literally the last refuge for dozens of rare, endemic, and endangered species including birds such as the resplendent quetzal, azure-rumped tanager, horned guan, emerald toucanet, and mammals such as tapir, puma, and spider monkey. Three-hundred seventy-eight bird, 55 reptile, 112 mammal, and over 2,000 species of flowering plants have been recorded in the reserve.


The region’s growing population contributes to several of the primary threats in El Triunfo. As the agricultural frontier expands, forest clearing for coffee plantations, subsistence agriculture, and cattle ranching—and the frequent forest fires that accompany these activities—is of high concern. Unsustainable agriculture practices contaminate the area’s soil and water and threaten the integrity of numerous biological resources. Rapid population growth, accompanied by poverty and scarce agricultural resources, exacerbates these problems and adds continuous pressure on the area’s natural resources.

A Strategy of Success

With its headquarters abandoned and minimal on-site staff, El Triunfo was, in the truest sense, a “paper park” before PiP began in 1991. With PiP funding, El Triunfo was able to hire and train a staff of 54.

The staff has worked to build trusting relationships with the local communities and have received significant support. Projects have reached 10 communities and many communities have been successful in the production of environmental education materials. Communities have participated in drafting reserve management plans and have adopted compatible development activities such as switching from conventional to organic coffee plantations. Communities exported 207,900 lbs. of coffee to the U.S. in 1997. Additionally, palm and cycad plant nurseries have been established to alleviate the pressures of poaching for the ornamental plant trade.

Authorities in the reserve worked with staff in La Encrucijada, another PiP site in Chiapas, to coordinate a watershed management project on the Pacific side of the reserve. Through persistent efforts, the El Triunfo staff was also able to convince the government to agree to end land grants within Chiapas protected areas.

Upon site consolidation in 1997, PiP was instrumental in providing reserve staff and the partner organization, Instituto de Historia Natural, with the tools and knowledge to continue conservation efforts in El Triunfo. Since site consolidation, many achievements have been made, including the creation of El Triunfo Trust Fund and Quetzal Campaigning, a communications strategy that has reached 38 communities inside and outside of the reserve - now over 70% of people living within the reserve boundaries and its neighboring lands know about El Triunfo.  

Read more about El Triunfo...

Instituto de Historia Natural (IHN)
The Nature Conservancy in the Chiapas Coastal Watershed and El Triunfo

Read more about projects in Mexico...

Ajos-Bavispe National Forest & Wildlife Refuge
Cuatro Ciénegas National Wildlife Reserve

Loreto Bay/Isla Espiritu Santo Migratory Flora and Fauna Reserve
Ría Celestun & Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserves
La Encrucijada Biosphere Reserve
El Ocote Biosphere Reserve
Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
El Pinacate/Gran Desierto del Altar Biosphere Reserve

Calakmul Biosphere Reserve

Mexico Partner Organizations

The Nature Conservancy in Mexico