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Local Leadership in Dzilam de Bravo: Environmental Monitoring for Conservation

By Nicte Cabañas, Project assistant in C Minds’ Future of Earth Lab; Constanza Gómez Mont, Founder and Principal of C Minds; Regina Cervera, Projects Coordinator of C Minds’ Future of Earth.

The Dzilam State Reserve is a priority site for wetland conservation in the Yucatan Peninsula. It is an area with great local and international relevance, as its large expanse of mangroves and marine portion contribute to carbon sequestration, sustainable fisheries and marine life, and biodiversity protection. The reserve is home to various conservation projects, from sea turtle protection to biodiversity monitoring with new technologies through our project, Tech4Nature Mexico.

Despite multiple initiatives to protect the environment, the area still faces threats to biodiversity such as habitat loss, deforestation, and poaching. Therefore, one of the key challenges for Tech4Nature Mexico was to design a strategy with transformative and sustainable changes. At C Minds, a key part of this strategy was to partner with the government, academia, and the local community living in the area to seek answers together, and to contribute complementary knowledge from each entity.

One thing we are proud of is the partnership we formed with the community of Dzilam which provided us with profoundly valuable knowledge to achieve the goals of responsible use of autonomous and intelligent systems to monitor biodiversity. We have had the privilege of working over the past year with people from the community such as Juan Castillo, Benjamin Campos, and Darwin Sosa, who act as our local conservation experts in the area, learning through the project about how biodiversity monitoring technologies can help to make their biodiversity protection activities more efficient and effective.

From this experience, we decided to expand the opportunities to acquire this knowledge and help train more leaders in sustainability with technological knowledge, extending the impact of our initiative. This is how C Minds, in collaboration with the Ministry of Sustainable Development, developed and taught a pilot course on conservation project management with technological innovation in the community of Dzilam de Bravo.

Over the course of five modules, people from the community were immersed in a world of possibilities. From learning about environmental monitoring technologies to understanding the ethical nuances of technologies such as artificial intelligence. The program aimed to encourage the development of technical skills, foster collaboration, and promote a united and engaged community. In addition to the C Minds experts who helped deliver the workshops, we are grateful for the participation of important C Minds partners such as UNESCO who provided knowledge about best practices for the ethical use of AI for these types of projects.

It also sought to strengthen digital technology skills and provide tools to participate in conservation projects and decision-making on the management of the area, in order to contribute to the care of the environment and the protection of the species that inhabit the region.

The Reserve as an Innovation Hub

The value of these trainings deepens when considering the unique environment of Dzilam de Bravo. The diversity of habitats and species is a perfect canvas for technological innovation. Participants can now explore the possibility of applying cutting-edge technologies to monitor and conserve these spaces. Technology, which once may have seemed distant and alien, now becomes a tangible tool for protecting the environment they love.

As Professor Leticia N. Pool pointed out, they were not aware of the great diversity of species that inhabit the Reserve, but now they can share this knowledge with their students to promote awareness of the great treasure that this space holds.

Building a Sustainable Community

As these lessons leave an indelible mark on the community of Dzilam de Bravo, a sustainable and technologically empowered future is being woven. Local people not only witness the transformations in their environment but also further strengthen their role as catalysts for change. Biodiversity protection is no longer just an abstract idea; it is becoming a deeply rooted commitment in the hearts and minds of the people who call this corner of Mexico home.

The union of our co-initiative, Tech4Nature Mexico, with the community of Dzilam de Bravo is an inspiring reminder of the power of local training. In this environment, training becomes the link that unites tradition and technology in the common pursuit of one goal: the conservation of a natural treasure for present and future generations. As participants become passionate and informed guardians of the possibilities that other tools can bring, the future of Dzilam de Bravo shines with a promising glow.

A big thank you to Juan Castillo, Benjamín Campos, Darwin Sosa, and Victoria Avilés, from Dzilam de Bravo and Dzilam González, for opening their doors and helping us organize this workshop. As well as to Valentina Vanegas, Alejandro Pacheco, and Rafael Nadal from SDS,, and Dorian Rommens from UENSCO and to our team Constanza Gómez Mont, Founder and Principal of C Minds; Regina Cervera, Project Coordinator at C Minds and Nicte Cabañas, Project Coordination Assistant at C Minds.


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