Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve was created through a decree published November 30, 1988 in the Federation's Official Registry(D.O.F 1988). In 2000, the National Ecology Institute (INE) presented and published the reserve's management program. The program is extensive and considers the main factors influencing the protected area (Ortega and Castellanos 1995; INE 2000; INE-SEMARNAP-FMCN 2000). The National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) is responsible for administering and managing the reserve.
This reserve has been zoned. There are several core zones in which permitted activities are restricted to environmental education, scientific research, recreation, and tourism. There are 16 core zones covering 362,438 hectares including:
1. Desierto del Vizcaíno
2. Guerrero Negro
3. Laguna Ojo de Liebre I
4. Laguna Ojo de Liebre II
5. Laguna Ojo de Liebre III
6. Laguna Ojo de Liebre IV
7. Laguna Ojo de Liebre V
8. Vertiente de California (Tinajas de Murillo)
9. Isla Delgadito
10. Islas pelicano
11. Islotes Delgadito
12. Isla Malcomb
13. Isla San Ignacio
14. Isla San Roque
15. Isla la Asunción
16. Isla Natividad
The rest of the reserve is part of the buffer zone. The buffer zone's objective is to maintain and improve ecosystem conditions and ensure continuality of ecological processes. This zone is further subdivided into other areas and covers a total of 2,184,351 hectares:
a. Sustainable Natural Resource Use Zone: Sustainable use activities are permitted, including activities that modify the ecosystems when that is the best option from a technological and legal point of view.
b. Restricted Use Zone: Sustainable natural resource development activities are permitted as long as they maintain the ecosystems' conservation, improving the state of conservation in certain situations.
c. Human Settlement Zones: Settlement is allowed in these population centers, including legal, rural farms and territory reserves.
The World Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO in 1993 located within the reserve include:
1. Gray Whale Refuges in Vizcaíno's Bays: Lagunas Ojo de Liebre, Guerrero Negro, and San Ignacio.
2. The Sierra de San Francisco Cave Paintings.
Laguna San Ignacio is a recently declared RAMSAR site (2004). Here, thousands of aquatic birds congregate
Mining exploration and exploitation is prohibited within San Ignacio Bay (INE 2000). There is no such prohibition mentioned for Ojo de Liebre Bay, and in Sierra de San Francisco mining activities are conditional, based on rules 76, 77, and that declare any mining projects in the area must follow the established guidelines set in the General Law of Ecological Equilibrium and Environmental Protection (LGEEPA), in the reserve's management program, and finally in the regulations stated in the Mexican Official Norms published in the Federation's Official Registry.
Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve has 22 employees, five of whom are core staff (a director, a vice-director, an administrator, and two project coordinators). The other 17 are field support staff and patrol officers. There are three field stations, also used as offices and control posts. One station is the reserve's central office and it is located in Guerrero Negro. The second station is Berrendo, located in the Desierto del Vizcaíno, and the third station is Borrego, located near the Tres Vírgenes Volcano.
El Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve's offices are located in the city of Guerrero Negro; they are better known as the house of wildlife
The total budget for 2003 was approximately $US 270,000. The principal sources of funding were the Federal Government (via CONANP), which provided $US 87,000; the Global Environment Fund (GEF), which provided $US 100,000 for reserve operations; and private institutions like the FORD Foundation and FMCN (CONANP 2004; B. Bermúdez Personal Communication).
It is important to mention that in 2003 a bilateral cooperation agreement was signed between Spain and Mexico via the Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and the Spanish Aid Agency in order to conserve El Vizcaíno Reserve's natural resources. Currently, CONANP is also formalizing cooperation agreements with countries like Brazil, Costa Rica, Belize, and Australia (CONANP 2003).