Cloud Forest Sanctuary

An urban forest for Xalapa and its people

What is the Cloud Forest Sanctuary?

 The Cloud Forest Sanctuary is a very unique remnant of native forest located next to the Clavijero Botanic Garden of the INECOL. This 30 hectare site contains a well-preserved cloud forest fragment. Further, it is a place wherein several new species have been recently discovered.

The Cloud Forest Sanctuary forms part of the State Protected Natural Reserve, “Parque Francisco Javier Clavijero”, established in 1975. It is has been managed by the INECOL since 1996.

Cloud forest contains the highest diversity of plant species in Mexico, although it covers less than 1% of national territory. It is highly threatened worldwide and is disappearing faster than any other tropical forest. In Mexico more than 50% of cloud forest has been transformed by agricultural land conversion and urbanization.

Our vision

• Develop and establish the Cloud Forest Sanctuary as a forest conservation model for urban areas.

• Conserve the Cloud Forest Sanctuary through environmental education, protection and ecological restoration.

• Promote social ownership of this unique area of forest and integrate it to the local population’s personal lives.


Our experience

The INECOL is a non-profit public research institute run by the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT).  It houses 200 academics and its mission is to generate scientific knowledge applied to conservation and sustainable use of Mexican biodiversity with benefits for society.  Of relevance are the scientific collections, library and laboratories. Outstanding is the Clavijero Botanic Garden (JBC), a national leader in living plant collection management, and with ample experience in environmental education. The Garden receives about 50,000 visitors per year, collaborates with 180 schools at all academic levels representing 18,000 students, including special education and indigenous pupils.

The JBC works in collaboration with national and international institutions, such as the Secretariat of Education of Veracruz, the University of Veracruz, the National University of Mexico (UNAM), the University of Sciences and Arts of Chiapas, the Mexican Botanic Gardens Association, the Montgomery Botanical Centre and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Florida USA, and Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). Also, it has a database consisting of over 300 tourist companies, bird watchers, amateur naturalist groups, travel agencies as well as national and international education centres.  This illustrates the potential market for visitors to the Sanctuary.

At present, the Clavijero Botanic Garden is a leader institution in Latin America.


How do we achieve this?

By means of environmental education, outreach, and fostering awareness in order to motivate positive perceptions and clearly oriented attitudes toward conservation of natural resources within the community.  In order to attain this, specific aims and infrastructure is needed and  detailed below:



The proposal enlists six lines of visibly interconnected actions:

1) Protection and restoration

a)    Propagation of native species

b)    Regeneration of 7 additional hectares of forest

c)     Recovery and restoration of 5,000 m2 of wetlands

d)    Seed bank


2) Development of facilities and infrastructure rehabilitation

a)    Security modules and access control

b)    Reception and information module

c)     Visitor centre

d)    Interpretive trails and routes

e)    Canopy trails and viewing platforms?

f)     Signage program

g)    Ecological toilets

h)    Integral water management

i)     Perimeter fences

j)      Solar panels


3) Environmental education

a) Courses, workshops and talks

b) Guided thematic visits (diurnal and nocturnal)

c) Guided bird watching visits

d) Formal and informal education activities

e) Design of educational material kits

f) Develop specific programs for local schools

g) Itinerant exhibitions


4) Outreach

a)    Media newsletter, podcasts and interviews

b)    Printed matter (guides, posters, leaflets etc),

c)     Videos and audio capsules (podcasts)

d)    Multimedia

e)    Web site


4) Citizen involvement

 a)    Formation and training of volunteer groups

b)    Reforestation and restoration campaigns

c)     Litter collection and sanitation work days

d)    Community training

e)    Programme for participation of neighboring  inhabitants


5) Recreation

a)    Camping area

b)    Fitness activities: walks, cross-country races, and environmentally sensitive low-impact mountain biking

c)     Cultural events: theatre, music, art, dance, story-telling

d)    Area for sculptures

e)    Children’s ecological playground



What does INECOL offer?

The INECOL offers to promote sponsor’s logos in outreach programs, printed products and/or electronic applications derived from this project, among others.

  • Signage
  • Outreach printed products and multimedia
  • Massive media communications: internet, social networks, TV, radio, press
  • Printed and electronic promotional ads
  • Educational and interpretive materials


There’s no life without plants. The functioning of the planet and our survival depends on plants, their ecosystems and environmental processes that sustain them. Our vision is that of a positive and sustainable future, in which human activities take advantage of life’s diversity in rational ways.

Knowing the places where this diversity unfolds is a way to promote our wellbeing and finally our survival.  We are convinced that a visit to the Cloud Forest Sanctuary will be a fully satisfying experience.



All photographs showed in this document were taken in the Cloud Forest Sanctuary and the Clavijero Botanic Garden of the INECOL.

Presented by:

  • Martín R. Aluja Schuneman Hofer, PhD., Director of Institute of Ecology
  • Technical Secretariat
  • Clavijero Botanic Garden
  • Liaison Office

Photographs © Instituto de Ecología, A.C.

Xalapa, Veracruz, México 2011