In 1971, ecologists from all over the world met in the city of Ramsar, Iran to deal with the worsening conditions of wetlands on this planet.
Perhaps they were mainly motivated by the threat to migrating birds posed by the disastrous pollution of marshes and mangroves, but they also opened the world’s eyes to the vital importance of such places, which they call “cradles of biological diversity that provide the water and productivity upon which countless species of plants and animals depend for survival.” Over the years, the list of Ramsar Wetlands has grown, recognizing local conservationists’ efforts to clean up and protect these areas and bringing them much needed support and resources from abroad.
Jalisco presently has 13 Ramsar sites. The most recently added to the list is Presa La Vega (Dam), located 40 kilometers due west of Guadalajara. On February 7, members of the technical committee for the integral management of Presa La Vega, such as the Jalisco State Water Commission and several other groups, organized a series of events at La Vega to bring people up to date on what has been accomplished there and to lay out the problems that still need to be resolved.
The first event of the day was a birdwatching session at the south end of the lake. More than 50 people showed up for this and I believe the great majority of them were as shocked as I was to discover that almost everything we could see of the lake had been turned into a carpet of green water hyacinths, popularly called lirios, which harm marine life by cutting off their oxygen supply.