Due to its wide variety of elevations, ranging from 10 to 3,010 meters above sea level, the Sierra de las Minas Biosphere Reserve is a jewel of biodiversity. The mountain chain is home to the headwaters of no less than 63 rivers, a particularly important resource for the arid valleys of the region.
Defensores administers this protected area since 1990. This biosphere reserve is home to at least 885 species of birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles. It covers an area of 242,642 hectares (599,581 acres). The Sierra de las Minas is considered an irreplaceable seed bank for reforestation and agroforestry in the tropics.
The dry thorny forest dominates the lower elevations, while majestic cloud forests crown the slopes of the mountains. In addition, it is the largest habitat in the world for the threatened and resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno), the symbol of Guatemala.
With so much natural wealth, it is no surprise that the Sierra de las Minas is one of the biosphere reserves internationally recognized in UNESCO’s “Man and the Biosphere” program. Landscape and biodiversity make this a potential destination for ecotourism.
In addition to biodiversity, the Sierra de las Minas has a significant socioeconomic value. The 63 rivers that originate in the reserve provide water to more than 500,000 people as well as resources for agricultural and hydroelectric use.