The World’s Inspiring Places

Posted by on in Documentary Short


At a time when travelers are rushing to see places before they change, or vanish forever, two young college friends wanted to check out a place that people have been working to protect—Sierra Gorda in Central Mexico.

With a small crew, Christian and Ian traveled through deserts, forests, and vast mountains they didn’t know existed in Mexico. Sierra Gorda is a UNESCO biosphere reserve, so big it could swallow all of Yosemite National Park with room to spare. Unlike a national park, though, people live in this reserve and 97% of it is actually owned by the local people.

The Sierra Gorda biosphere reserve is an area rich in biodiversity, culture, history, traditional food, natural beauty, and adventure. But much of that might not be here anymore if it weren’t for a small organization called Grupo Ecologico, which has been working to keep this as a special place for people to live and travel.

Martha Isabel Ruiz Corzo, or Pati as she’s known, started Grupo Ecologico in 1987. At that time, Sierra Gorda was severely threatened by logging, cattle grazing and the poverty that contributes to such degradation. Our hosts wanted to find out how they could meet such a tough conservation challenge.

This is a story of social inclusion and civil society working together to create a different model of conservation.

Many areas around the world are developing fast, too fast. Still fighting daily threats, Sierra Gorda is a symbol of hope for the world with their continued passion and perseverance to protect, what all of us, and future generations, can enjoy.

Directors: Erika Gilsdorf, Juan Carlos Rodarte Ruiz


Erika Gilsdorf, is the owner of her own, small, video company. So small, she is the only part-time employee. She works with U.S. and international freelance crews to tell inspiring stories of amazing places that are doing things right to protect where people love to live, and like herself, travel. Starting in 2007 with no prior experience in the visual arts, she saw video as a way to reach large audiences with powerful messages on conservation. Her work has been supported by such entities as National Geographic Wild Chronicles, The World Bank, The Nature Conservancy, USAID, and United Airlines.

Erika likes using international crews when she can to create friendships and support filmmakers in the destinations she videotapes.


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