Sciences unit opened at El Charco del Ingenio
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
El Charco del Ingenio has reached completion on a project in the works for more than 20 years: the construction of their sciences unit, which will aid in the scientific investigation of biodiversity in the area for purposes of providing optimal conservation.
On July 11, 1991, the doors of El Charco del Ingenio were opened, and since its foundation the members have worked to preserve the biodiversity of more than 60 hectares as well as open the grounds to the general public to make them aware of the importance of its natural heritage. In 1991, when El Charco started working in the area they stopped the illegal extraction of firewood and soil and overgrazing, and those actions helped recover 130 species of plants growing naturally in the area.
Since the opening of the nature reserve, according to Mario Hernández, director of El Charco, they had the idea of constructing a sciences unit for the study of the regional and local flora; nevertheless, due to the lack of financial resources it had not been possible, until Saturday, May 18, which marked the opening of a complex that will allow scientific investigators, students and volunteers to conduct research on the flora, fauna, soil and water. The information will be published and available to the general public through the nonprofit organization. The investigations will help us to understand what is growing in the region and gain important information about the plants, such as how they are growing and mutating and adapting to the change of weather and populations to survive. With these data, projects and techniques of conservation will be developed. In the past, El Charco was able only to reproduce the plants and prevent their extinction.
The structure, built with the natural elements of mud, wood and reeds from the region, has a well-equipped laboratory with professional tools in which investigators will observe, clean, disinfect and treat seeds and plants following organic procedures. The complex also contains an office area. Next to the office, the first herbarium in the state has been constructed; in this area, dried plants will be catalogued and stored following scientific regulations for their study. The construction also has a room with basic services for housing the investigators. The unit has been dedicated to Walter Meagher, who passed away in 2010 and who since his arrival in San Miguel more than 15 years ago contributed his knowledge to the investigation of flora and fauna in El Charco.
Currently the organization is working to reach agreements to attract researchers from universities in the state and from Querétaro, Havana, Cuba and from UNAM. El Charco has the largest botanical collection in Mexico, after that of UNAM, with 815 different species.