On Monday, the Mexican government established the largest biological reserve in the country’s history, further driving a global trend of setting aside large swaths of land and ocean for conservation.

In a signed decree, President Enrique Peña Nieto set aside 160 million acres of conservation area. The Mexican federal government will safeguard four new reserves and five protected areas, from Pacific Island waters to the Mountains of Tamaulipas, to retain biodiversity in those regions.

By designating 23 percent of its sea surfaces as protected, Mexico has surpassed United Nations' “10 percent target” three years ahead of schedule. In doing so, the country joins a growing list of nations to commit vast marine resources to conservation.

Large marine protected areas (MPAs) are a relatively new trend in global environmentalism. When the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity met in 2010, just 1 percent of the world’s oceans were federally protected. That year, 196 countries signed off on a deal to designate 10 percent by 2020.


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