For every tree planted, 20 are lost in agricultural burns in the south of the state.
Quintana Roo loses thousands of hectares of trees each year, making efforts to reforest it insufficient: for each tree that is planted, 20 are lost in agricultural burns in the south of the state or by indiscriminate felling, which give way to huge subdivisions in the northern municipalities.
According to data from the Environmental Compensation Project of the National Forestry Commission (Conafor), between 2017 and the first two months of 2020, trees were planted on 7,985 hectares of Quintana Roo soil, for which 187 million pesos of resources were allocated federal.
However, in that same period, 175 thousand hectares were lost, of which 20 thousand were due to logging.
Another 52,153 were due to forest fires. This year was the worst: more than 40 thousand hectares of vegetation was reduced to ashes in 68 fires, according to the most recent cut by Conafor.
The municipalities of Bacalar and Othón P. Blanco have been the most affected, concentrating five out of every 10 hectares lost to the fire. This situation is not accidental
According to the head of the State Civil Protection Coordination, Adrián Martínez Ortega, six out of every 10 accidents were caused by farmers and ranchers; two out of ten had their origin in the activities of poachers, while the rest by distractions of the population.
Although the authorities are aware of the causes, in recent years the only report of any strong sanction is a fine of 10 million pesos applied by the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa) to the Mennonite community installed in Bacalar. The amount has already been covered. Nobody ended up in jail.
In addition to the burning, there is also the “legal” destruction of the flora: the logging and clearing carried out by construction companies to make way for large subdivisions.
According to information provided by the Quintana Roo College of Engineers, from 2016 to date at least 68 real estate developments have been built, occupying the space where 99 thousand hectares of vegetation were located.
67% of these constructions are subdivisions located in the cities of Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen, to meet the housing demand of the almost 40 thousand migrants who arrive in the state each year.
“Unfortunately, excessive growth is not accompanied by adequate reforestation”, says Alejandro Rodríguez Aznar, architect, urban planner, and person in charge of the “Heat Islands in Cancun” research, where he reveals that this lack of interest in favoring “green” growth, It has caused an increase of almost three degrees in the temperature of the city.
“In most neighborhoods, regions, or real estate developments you can see hectares and hectares of concrete slabs, and very few trees. Even in parks, it is not possible to find more than five. This causes solar radiation to disperse more slowly, forming a heat bubble that raises the temperature and affects us all ”, he points out.
Added to this problem are the 3,429 hectares of mangroves that have been cut down or filled in the last decade in the north of the state to build large hotels, villas, and golf courses, which in addition to increasing the temperature, also accentuates erosion of soil, the loss of beaches and pollution of the sea.
Efforts to reforest, in addition to being insufficient, have also proven inoperative. Environmentalists and ejido chiefs assure that the authorities do not follow up on tree planting, which reduces its success rate.
“In 2011, Conafor planted 110 hectares of mahogany in the area to compensate for the trees lost due to the felling of precious woods,” says Reinaldo Guzmán Juárez, from Ejido Caobas, in the municipality of Othón P. Blanco, “but only the photo and they left. They did not return to monitor its growth or fertilize the land. That is why today nothing survives from that planting ”.
The ejidatario adds that with the federal program “ Sembrando Vida ”, an investment of 220 million pesos was announced in 2018 to plant trees in 12,500 hectares of common land in Quintana Roo. He fears that they will suffer the same fate.