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State forgoes over half of mangroves for developmental projects

Cancun, Q.R. – Over the past 40 years, the state of Quintana Roo has lost nearly 55 percent of its mangroves to real estate and tourism developments.

The rate of mangrove loss has been attributed to rate of speed at which the state of Quintana Roo has populated. Gonzalo Merediz-Alonso, director of the non-profit friends of Sian Ka’an, says that the entity has 27 natural protected areas that cover more than 1.6 million hectares, or about one-fifth of the state’s area.

He says that local biologists and environmentalists with the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (Cemda), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa) made the observation in northern Quintana Roo, which ended in 2013.

Official reports show the greatest mangrove loss occurred in the municipalities of Benito Juarez (Cancun), Solidaridad (Playa del Carmen), Tulum and Puerto Morelos as well as coastal communities like Akumal, Puerto Aventuras, Punta Allen and Sian Ka’an, however, it was development that led to the creation of these municipalities.

The comparisons were made with satellite images from 1976 and found that from that period, there’s been a decrease of about 55 per cent of the mangrove area while the remaining 45 percent has experienced a high rate of fragmentation.

Merediz Alonso recalled that in 1976, two years after the official start of the Integrally Planned Center (CIP) in Cancun, there were about 30 pieces of mangrove in the region.

“We went from 3,429 hectares of mangrove to 1,569 hectares … is a logical phenomenon on a coast that is developing at the speed with which Quintana Roo has done. Here the question we must ask as a society: how much we can afford to transform?”

While he says that the mangrove loss is attributed to the transformation of the land for real estate, hotel and tourism developments, he adds that other less justifiable causes for the loss has been poor planning on building roads, because no proper drainage is introduced, the hydrological cycle is short, and over the years, the vegetation ends up dying.

Graciela Saldaña Fraire, former PRD federal legislator and director of ecology in the municipality of Benito Juarez (Cancun), criticized state authorities led by the PRI governor Roberto Borge Angulo, saying they have not made a single decree to protect the area throughout his administration.

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