While real estate developments invade the entire port, there is only one tree for every 20 inhabitants.
Mazatlán, Sinaloa.- While the municipality of Mazatlán has the goal of delivering 8,400 construction licenses in three years, according to the Municipal Development Plan 2021-2024, only about 1,500 trees will be planted in this same period. The idea of a sustainable city, where the gray infrastructure and the green infrastructure are reconciled, is rather a chimera.
And it is that it is increasingly common to realize that incorrect urban planning has generated disorderly growth and has made green areas vulnerable.
According to the United Nations-Habitat Organization, urban trees provide multiple benefits for cities and their inhabitants, so it is important to care for and protect them.
They are excellent filters for contaminants such as dust, dirt, and smoke; They can help regulate the temperature in homes in the hot season, decreasing between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius; they also regulate the flow of water and play a key role in preventing floods.
From 2018 to 2023, the Mazatlán City Council, through the Department of Ecology and Environment, has issued a total of 575 permits to carry out the felling of trees, according to a request for information that was answered by this dependency.
In this same application, it was required to specify how many of the permits had been issued for real estate developments. The answer was 22, a figure that corresponds only to the years 2020 to 2023, omitting 2018 and 2019.
Housing developments expand throughout the city without proper regulation of green areas. Photo: Fausto McConegly |El Sol de Mazatlan
It was explained that the consent to cut down can only be given when the specimens are dry when they are damaging some private property, have a pest or represent a danger to public safety. This is according to Article 56 of the Environmental and Climate Change Regulation.
Likewise, it was reported that as mitigation measures, to reduce the damage caused by logging, citizens are asked to donate trees for the municipal arborization days.
The agency also pointed out that in this same period, they have received 2,254 reports related to trees, but that they do not have information on how many have been felled illegally and that it is not within their powers to apply fines and sanctions for this action. but the Civic Court is the competent authority.
On the other hand, the management recognized that it does not have a tree planting manual, but it does disclose through brochures the necessary information to plant trees, as well as the species that are recommended by the region and that for each tree planting day an awareness talk on site about the importance of trees.
In this sense, the number of arborization campaigns carried out in the last five years was also requested, which were 22 days in 2018, 2 in 2021, 7 in 2022, and 2 so far in 2023, without mentioning the number of trees planted.
For unspecified reasons, it was only pointed out that it does not have a record for the year 2019 and that during 2020 the campaigns or conferences were temporarily suspended due to the closure of educational centers and face-to-face activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The most widely planted native species are amapa, venadillos, rain gold, huanacaxtle, and tabachín, while neem, ficus, and black olive trees are invasive species.
Urban trees provide multiple benefits for cities and their inhabitants, so it is important to care for and protect them. Photo: Fausto McConegly | El Sol de Mazatlan
The most imprecise information was when the number of existing trees in the city was requested and the following information was obtained: in 2018 there were 24,550 trees in Mazatlán, according to a report from the Department of Parks and Gardens; subsequently only 85 were planted in 2021 and 683 in 2022.
This same information was repeated at the point where it was questioned how many trees had been planted per year and again the information for 2019 and 2020 was omitted.
Deficit of trees and green areas
The World Health Organization ensures that at least one tree is needed for every three inhabitants to breathe better air in cities.
Taking this pronouncement as a reference, in Mazatlán there should be at least 167,147 trees since according to the last INEGI census of 2020 there were 501,440 inhabitants in the port.
But according to the information provided by the Department of Ecology, even adding up the three years (25,308), there is a tree deficit of 85% in Mazatlán, that is, there is one tree for every 20 inhabitants.
The information available on the National Transparency Platform indicates that the Ecology Department responded to a request on October 21, 2022, in which it revealed that 25 trees had been planted in 2018; 599 in 2019; 833 in 2020; 800 in 2021, and 319 in 2022.
In Mazatlán, in four years there was a reduction of green areas of 75.24 hectares. Photo: Fausto McConegly | El Sol de Mazatlan
For its part, the Directorate of Public Services, dated November 1, 2022, reported that in the port there were 840 green areas delivered to the City Council with 30 trees each and registered 328 avenues with a central ridge delivered to the City Council with 50 trees each. one, for a total of 36 thousand trees in the city, even so, the deficit is 78.5 percent.
The consultant specializing in environmental and development issues, Ángel García Contreras, mentions that in 2008 the Municipal Planning Institute prepared a Strategic Development Plan ” Mazatlán 2030 “, in which the lack of green areas was already evident.
The document says that at that time the port had a total of 208,450 hectares of green area for a population of 367,025 inhabitants, that is, 5.67 square meters per inhabitant.
” This is well below the minimum recommended by the United Nations – Habitat Organization, which says that there are at least 10 and the ideal is 16 square meters of green area per inhabitant,” he mentioned.
In 2012 the para municipal published the Urban Development Master Plan, at that time the urban area of Mazatlán comprised 7 thousand 895.3 hectares, which are distributed in land uses such as commerce, services, industry, and residence, mainly occupying the areas green only 1.7% of the territory with 133.21 hectares. In only four years there was a reduction of green areas of 75.24 hectares.
” It is evident, 15 and 11 years after that study and in accordance with the logic and trend of anarchic growth in the city, that there is a reduction in these spaces .”
What do you propose?
The former director of Ecology proposes the creation of a Municipal Environmental System in which statistical information is presented on issues related to the environment, such as vegetation, land use, bodies of water, generation of pollutants, and environmental programs, among others, as well as a systematic reforestation policy in the city.
There are fewer and fewer green areas in the city. Photo: Fausto McConegly | El Sol de Mazatlan
In addition to the fact that the regulations include which species can be planted (native or regional) and which cannot (introduced or invasive) since the neighbors themselves, and even the construction companies, plant trees that look “pretty” without taking into account the needs and characteristics of the species, then come the problems with the roots, being forced to request the consent of felling.
Also, the different plans be updated with objective and well-supported diagnoses, first so that the City Council has full knowledge of the municipal assets it has and second so that citizens are informed about it and incidentally avoid the appropriation of areas green for private and commercial usufruct.
2018: 93 permits
2019: 147 permits
2020: 4 permits
2021: 103 permits
2022: 164 permits
2023: 64 permits
According to the Municipal Development Plan 2021-2024, the scheduled goal is to carry out 33 days of arborization and plant 1,500 trees in three years.