Long-term environmental strategy certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council
Vulcan Materials Company’s SAC-TUN operation presented its first sustainability report outlining its long-term environmental vision and strategy, 2020 results. SAC-TUN, which means white stone in Mayan, is located near Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
For 34 years, Vulcan has been working in Quintana Roo where its operating standards have been designed to go beyond what is required by environmental regulations and better protect the natural environment. It is Vulcan’s largest quarry.
Ernesto Enríquez Castillo, President of the International Division of Vulcan Materials Company and President of SAC-TUN, noted how the operation collaborates with the community, civil society, scientists and authorities, to reach agreements that benefit each other and the environment. These partnerships further establish the operation’s environmental sustainability vision.
“Our sense of responsibility and our values drive us to continue working to contribute to the conservation and protection of our natural resources,” he said. “For us, sustainability means having a positive social, environmental and economic impact on our people, our communities, and our environment and its biodiversity.”
In 2018, SAC-TUN commissioned an assessment to explore new opportunities for sustainability initiatives and further mitigation of the effects of its operation. As a result, SAC-TUN developed a long-term environmental vision and strategy which has been praised by the local government and NGOs as a model for businesses and industries in Mexico.
“SAC-TUN’s sustainability strategy is a pioneering initiative that brings together a private company, civil society organizations, academic institutions, local communities and the state government to strengthen conservation of species and ecosystems within the region,” said Gonzalo Merediz, Executive Director, Amigos de Sian Ka’an.
The company made an initial investment of $1.5 million over a three-year period for these initiatives. The organizations and institutions which helped the company refine its environmental strategy for the region also are helping implement the initiatives.
The environmental strategy also was certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council. This
certification recognizes SAC-TUN’s specific efforts and commitment to environmental conservation both on its properties and within the region.
SAC-TUN is located in the region of the Mesoamerican Reef, which is the world’s second largest coral reef covering more than 1,000 kilometers along the coast of the Caribbean Sea. It stretches from the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico to Belize, Guatemala and Honduras and is home to a wide range of flora and fauna, unique ecosystems and more than 66 species of coral.
“We know that we are privileged to be working in some of the most outstanding landscapes in Quintana Roo, the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico and the world,” said Karla Gonzalez, SAC-TUN Sustainability Manager. “We fully recognize the value of the Mexican Caribbean Biosphere Reserve and its associated protected areas, given the natural beauty, unique biodiversity, and environmental services they provide for the population, including freshwater harvesting, CO2 capture and the protection of coastlines and people against extreme climate events and rising sea levels.”
Working with its partners, our SAC-TUN team focused on the following projects in 2020:
Habitat and Movement of Jaguars
Led by the Autonomous University of Querétaro, the project studies the habitat and movements of jaguars in and around the company’s property in the Yucatán Peninsula. During this first three-year phase, researchers collected data about the jaguar’s movements, behavior and habitat. The jaguars, considered a Near Threatened species, are monitored via hidden cameras on the property. In the end, the research provides insights into the jaguar’s behavior so the operation can work to protect these felines and their prey.
Conservation Status of Manatees
In collaboration with El Colegio De La Frontera Sur-Chetumal, researchers undertook a project to gather information about manatees in Quintana Roo. They focused on spatial distribution, population density, ecology, female-calf proportion, group size and their movements along the coastline. The study also evaluated the threats to manatees stemming from growing tourism and maritime developments. The information will then be used to design a strategy that offers greater protection in the areas that the manatees frequent.
Contribution to Sustainable Whale Shark Tourism Management
In partnership with Pronatura Península de Yucatán, the project focuses on the whale shark which is considered an endangered species. Ongoing research is looking at the number of boats that can be in one area without affecting the sharks. The project combines two components – ensuring that whale sharks continue to generate employment for these tourist boats and preventing the negative impacts that tourism may have on these sharks while contributing to their conservation and that of their habitat.
Conservation of Critical Sea Turtle Nesting Habitats
In collaboration with Pronatura Península de Yucatán, researchers are studying hawksbill sea turtles, a critically endangered species, and the green sea turtle, an endangered species. Two of the 14 most important nesting beaches are in this region. The project continues the studies of the sea turtles, in addition to gathering data on the number of nests, the number of eggs laid, the number of turtles that hatch and the number of females, especially young females, who nest every season. The goal is to increase the knowledge of the movements of sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico and learn more about where turtles migrate in the Yucatán Peninsula after having nested.
Priority Ecosystems and Sustainable Communities
These projects focus on the conservation of priority ecosystems and the support of sustainable communities. These include:
Protected Areas Management
The company is working with SEMA (Quintana Roo Secretariat of Ecology and the Environment) to strengthen management plans, technical and legal studies and projects and strategies for the following protected areas:
Public Policy Development for Conservation Areas in the State of Quintana Roo
Through this project, the company supports SEMA’s public consultations and scientific research for the establishment of new protected areas:
Seasonal Sargassum Seaweed Solutions
The final project supports joint efforts in the search for solutions to the persistent problem of the seasonal sargassum seaweed influx that impacts the state’s beaches, affecting both the tourism industry and our invaluable biodiversity and ecosystems.
The experiences and lessons learned during these first three years will enable the SAC-TUN team to continue consolidating its environmental endeavors and identifying additional projects and partners, including other scientific and technological research institutions and organizations, companies committed to protecting the environment, and local, state and federal authorities.