Mérida, Yucatán — Starting in the Centro Histórico, the city is preparing to cut down about 400,000 sick trees. That represents roughly 17 percent of the municipality’s 2.3 million trees.
About 60 percent of Mérida’s trees are ailing for lack of care or poor placement, said Sayda Rodríguez Gómez, director of the Sustainable Development Unit, who cited a recent urban-tree inventory.
After the rainy season ends in October, the city will implement a pilot reforestation plan, first in the parks of the Historic Center. The project should conclude before the end of the year, she said.
Rodríguez Gómez said there is no way to predict which trees are at most risk of collapsing, but public services personnel do preventive pruning. Many trees that have fallen, particularly flamboyanes and almond trees (almendros), were planted in inappropriate spots along city streets.
“Being in small places, their roots do not strengthen, so when being too heavy they fall down,” she said, in Spanish.
Officials are urging residents to plant native species more suitable to the climate, including maculís, balchés, chiricotes, ceibas and oaks.
In all, the Sustainable Development Unit has a catalog of 55 tree species it finds appropriate for public spaces, and of those, only 18 will be planted on medians or road sides.