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How 14 Days In The Yucatan Made Me Realize the Value of Planet Earth Part 2

Posted Jul 17 2009 11:11pm

Sian Ka'an Cenote Lake as seen from the look-out tower

Visiting the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve was one of the most interesting and powerful experiences I have ever had with nature. Sian Ka’an is recognized under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme and is considered a World Heritage Site. My eight year old daughter and I were able to truly touch this unique and beautiful reserve.

Definitively, UNESCO sees a biosphere reserve as an ecological area with three core needs and functions: conservation, sustainable development and logistic support for scientific research and education. Map of Sian Ka'an from

Natural World Heritage sites must be of outstanding universal value in accordance with the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage and indeed, Sian Ka’an is an absolutely amazing property.

Located on the Mayan Riviera, it is a large area - nearly 1.3 million acres. It has 23 known archeological sites with relics dating up to 2,300 years old, 103 varieties of mammals and 336 species of birds. Currently it is home to over 2,000 inhabitants who are mostly native Mayan Indians – one of which was our guide to tour the jungle and cenote lake system.

Jungles are noisy places. Birds, insects, wind, and the creaking of branches combine to make a beautiful symphony of sound. Our Mayan guide, Antonio, pointed out Mayan Guide teaching at Sian Ka'an     many medicinal plants and warned us away from treacherous ones.

Amazing canals stretched for miles through the system of mangroves and wetlands. On one side of the canal system is mangroves, and on the other side of the canal system is wetland savannah which is quite beautiful.

My daughter and I were plopped into a canal – without our guide or any protection beyond a life vest – and we floated in our bathing suits down a one mile stretch of canal. As Antonio dropped us in the water, I was concerned about crocodiles and predators – it left both of our hearts pounding with excitement. However, there was no need to be worried; the sound of the wind blowing the mangroves and savannah grasses was quite amazing. Touching mangrove roots while we floated and really feeling a part of this special environment was powerful for both of us.

Sian Ka'an Bioreserve Canal Float

Having all your senses tantalized by nature is something everyone should experience, particularly children. Understanding that the jungle helps provide earth’s inhabitants with oxygen, the mangroves help protect the coastline from eroding, and that key medicine’s and antibiotics needed for mankind’s survival are found in this diverse world is enough to humble even the most confident human.

By introducing your family to nature you are educating them on the world’s needs and therefore helping them to understand the value of our eco-system as well as the value of our humanity. It is the green thing to do – the right thing to do.

What are you doing to introduce your family to nature? Whatever it is – do it today.

Shawna Coronado says Get Healthy! Get Green! Get Community!, The Green Blog -, or The Garden Blog -

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