About Baja California

The state of Baja California Sur is located in the northwest of Mexico, occupying half of the peninsula of Baja California (Fig. 1 ). It includes 73,922 km² representing 3.8% of the country’s surface and it has 2,705 km of coastline, which represents the 23.33% of the national total (SEMARNAT, 2006). It is located within a semiarid coastal area that is regionally acknowledged for its geographical isolation, low density population and scenic beauty. It consists of a diverse territory formed by open and varied spaces, which possess, among others, an extraordinary cultural and scientific value and interest represented by a rich natural heritage: its geology and paleontology. This heritage furthermore constitutes a valuable history of the geologic evolution of the territory that occupies the state.

Geologically the state stands out for the presence of diverse types of rocks, fossils and forms of terrestrial and coastal relief that provides evidence of a geologic evolution of a unique and complex nature. Numerous places exist in which, due to the semiarid climate factor that prevails, real natural monuments have been preserved, that give shape to the physical landscape.

In reference to the paleontology heritage, a federal law exists to ensure the preservation of fossils and fossil deposits. This heritage is, by the same law, property of the nation and as such is considered a communal heritage. The institutional responsibility of the conservation and custody of this heritage is circumscribed by Mexican legislation in Article 28 of the Law on “Monumentos y Zonas Arqueológicas, Artísticas e Históricas”, and its execution is under the jurisdiction of the Secretaría de Educación Pública through the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) (Diario Oficial de la Federación, 1986); nonetheless, the active participation of the different sectors of the population in the work of protection and conservation of the geological and paleontological sites is fundamental. International and national examples exist of the effectiveness of these actions where the community, in a manner consistent with protection, uses these spaces for cultural and/or scientific purposes or economically makes the best of it through sustainable tourism programs. Among many other examples is the European Network of GeoParks, the Global Network of GeoParks assisted by the UNESCO, the National Park System in Europe, United States of America, Canada and Mexico.