El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, situated in the mountains of Sierra Madre de Chiapas, is the most diverse evergreen cloud forest in Mexico, It is one of the most important sites for bird migration and one of the most extensive remnants in the country, containing the greatest diversity of tree species in North and Central America.
El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve is the most diverse evergreen cloud forest in Mexico, and one of the most important sites for bird migration. It is covered with evergreen seasonal forest, montane rainforest and lower montane rainforest that contain a higher proportion of endemic plants. A number of threatened mammalian species can be found in the reserve, namely Geoffroy’s spider monkey, margay, jaguar and puma.
El Triunfo is situated in the mountains of Sierra Madre de Chiapas, south of the Chiapas State. The terrain is generally steep and mountainous. The reserve is constituted as the limit between two of the largest hydrological regions of the state; the Pacific coast and the Grijalva-Usumacinta River. As a primary Pleistocene refuge, its location in the mountains of the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, it is considered an endemic area for different groups of plants and animals.
The El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve protects 10 of the 19 types of vegetation reported for the State of Chiapas. Among them are two of the most endangered ecosystems in Mexico, the cloud forest and the rainforest.
El Triunfo’s cloud forest is reported to be one of the most extensive remnants in the country and contains the greatest diversity of tree species in North and Central America. The Sierra Madre de Chiapas where El Triunfo is located is one of the regions in the country that receives the most rainfall.
The dense forest cover acts like a sponge, absorbing moisture from the rain and dense mist, thus making a high contribution to the rivers irrigating the coastal plain of the Pacific and the State’s Central Depression. Knowledge of the flora in the BR is still fairly incomplete but 977 species have been reported.
Regarding fauna, there are 548 terrestrial vertebrate species, representing 45% of those reported for Chiapas and 22% of those reported for Mexico. Twentytwo species of amphibians have been recorded, comprising 23% of those recorded for Chiapas and 7.5% of those for the country. As for reptiles, 63 species are known, corresponding to 32% of those known for Chiapas and 9% of those reported for the country.
One hundred and twelve species of mammals have been recorded, that is to say 56% of those for Chiapas and 23% of those for Mexico. In general, invertebrates have been the least studied group of fauna in the Reserve. For the Sierra Madre de Chiapas 588 species of daytime Lepidoptera butterflies have been identified, corresponding to 49% of those identified for Chiapas.
The human population is estimated to 229,280 (1999) living in the buffer and transition area, and a floating population that migrates from Guatemala to work on the coffee plantations. The main activities are agriculture, primarily based on coffee cultivation, maize, ‘camedora’ palm collection, trade, construction and cattle rising. Coffee plantations have become an important issue, influencing greatly the economical, social and political lives of local peoples.