Environmental Assessment of Rancho Encinalito Conservation Reserve

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UC Riverside
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Area/s of Research
Ecology and Evolution

With demographic shifts from rural to urban areas in the Baja California peninsula, and increasing interest in natural resource and biodiversity protection encouraged by Mexico’s commitment to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, there is need to identify areas deserving of formal protection. A meeting was convened in December 2022 at Rancho Encinalito, a 900-acre montane property the landowner wishes to donate for conservation and environmental education purposes, with possible development of a research and outreach program jointly managed by the UC Natural Reserve System and Mexican NGOs. Participants from regional conservation and sustainable development organizations were very positive about the proposed station, and suggested a multi-disciplinary
evaluation of flora and fauna, environmental impacts and restoration needs, and the potential for ecotourism to support the local economy, would help them solidify their interest in supporting this initiative, including financially. We propose to bring a group of graduate students and nearcompletion undergraduates with research interests in vegetation, wildlife, hydrology and water quality, arthropods (esp. pollinators), invasive species, as well as remote sensing for GIS applications, and the impacts of climate change. Students would stay at the location, collecting data on their specific interests then working as a team to interpret their results. The Output would be a formal
assessment of the ecosystem and how humans could best interact with it, and likely some would continue longer-term research based on findings from this initial assessment. Pronatura Noroeste, which is engaged in environmental protection throughout NW Mexico, would provide critical guidance and resources, and also manages the adjacent Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere Reserve which itself would benefit from investigations relevant to this unique landscape.