The Selva Zoque includes the Chimalapas rain forest and is the largest expanse of tropical rainforest in Mexico and contains the majority of the terrestrial biodiversity in the country. Included in this area is the Selva El Ocote, a federally protected biosphere reserve, but the vast majority of this region remains unprotected.
Although the ecology of the area is rich, a 2003 study that focused on bird populations revealed that the heart of the Chimalapas rain forest has seen little or no study. This area forms a key biological corridor between North and Central America and is home to numerous species such as Pumas, Ocelots, Tapirs, and a selection of threatened species like Jaguar, Spider Monkeys, Pecarries, Quetzal, and the Harpy Eagle.
From 1731 - 1747 this area was a key source of giant pines which the Spanish navy used for their masts and beams to construct their ships. These giant trees were felled and floated down the Rio Corte where they were then collected and brought to the shipyards.
Today, the Mexican government is planning to develop the trans-isthmus corridor to the western boundary of this region. This will facilitate travel from the Caribbean to the Pacific and as well help develop more industrial centers to increase petroleum and petrochemical industries in Salina Cruz. In the past there were plans to create coffee plantations, expand the production of beans, corn, and chili, and also exploit the bio-genetic potential of the area for medicinal purposes. As well, in 1977 there were plans to build a dam in Chimalapas but that project was halted due to environmental concerns. However, in June of 2008, those plans were resurrected and proposed again. This project would supply the town of Tehuantepec with enough water to irrigate 100,000ha of land and also supply the Salina Cruz refinery with an abundance of water. To date, those plans have not come to fruition.
Let's hope that better regulations are in the future for the Selva Zoque. This is an amazing area full of bio-diversity, and while it has been recognized by the World Wild Life Fund and the World Bank, protective measures need to be implemented before this region, and its species are lost entirely.