Mexican government forsakes biosphere reserve

The biosphere reserve is essential but the government claims there are no funds to support landowners and protect the areas

Mexican government forsakes biosphere reserve
Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve, located in San Andrés Tuxtla, Veracruz - Photo: Guadalupe Szymanski/EFE
English 07/07/2019 13:54 Newsroom Mexico City Horacio Jiménez Actualizada 14:08
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Austerity measures implemented by the federal government could risk 2,280 hectares of Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve, located in San Andrés Tuxtla, Veracruz because the Payment for Environment Services that 495 shareholders of common land received was canceled after authorities claimed there is a lack of funds for the program.

According to the National Forestry Commission, the Payment for Environment Services (PSA) was created in 2009 as an economic incentive for the owners of forest lands to compensate the costs of conservation and the sound management of the territory.

During the previous administration, the shareholders of common land received MXN $550 per hectare every year and according to information released by the current government, the landowners would receive MXN $700 per hectare every year, nevertheless, none of the 495 landowners in Los Tuxtlas have received the resources.

Furthermore, another 3,813 hectares could be at risk since the landowners' agreement with the government ends in 2020.

The Payment for Environment Services (PSA) was also implemented in other areas such as the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve and its equity fund; several Indigenous areas in Oaxaca; the basin of the Nazas river; the basin of the Pixquiac river; Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, in Querétaro, among others.

Octavio Pérez Garay, the San Andrés Tuxtla mayor said that austerity could destroy a large part of the reserve in Veracruz because landowners will have to obtain resources through other means, perhaps by using heavy machinery, livestock, or sowing, which would affect at least 2,280 hectares.

Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve was named a federal reserve in 1998 and it was integrated to ensure the permanence of the ecological and evolutionary processes in the region. It is considered as a rainforest and it's comprised by San Andrés Tuxtla, Catemaco, Mecayapan, Tatahuicapan de Juárez, Soteapan, and Pajapan.

The reserve consists of three areas: the San Martín Tuxtla volcano, Santa Martha volcano, and the San Martín Pajapan volcano. Inside the biosphere reserve, the Los Tuxtlas Biological Station, IBUNAM, contributes with 640 hectares of rainforest denominated “high evergreen forest,” as well as a research infrastructure and a lot of information thanks to biologists who have worked in the area.

No resources to fight climate change

Last week, the representative of the Forestry Commission in Veracruz, Demetrio Cruz, met with the mayor and landowners and recognized that all they fulfilled their tasks and obligations but said that the cancellation of payment is the result of lack of funds.

During the meeting, Esteban Cortés, the technical adviser and the landowners' representative, revealed that throughout the country, only 100 projects have been authorized but that the state of Veracruz is not on the list.

Citlalic Lorena Paxtian Ixba, a landowner from Sihuapan, said: “we don't get much but the little (money) we get has been useful to reforest our area, we have a protected area, hopefully the government and you as authorities, will continue with our program because many other take advantage of their lands but we share common land and can't take advantage of our land because it is inside the reserve and we use the little money we receive, we hope (authorities) take the matters into their hands, the solution is not for us as landowners to say 'We're going to cut down trees,' no, the solution is to maintain green areas but as a rewards we hope that (authorities) give us a little (financial) aid.”


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