Crowdfunding project will make Santa Ana park a greener space

Photo: Latitud40
Shade is all too rare in Parque Santa Ana, says Rubén Benicio. Photo: Latitud40

Mérida, Yucatán — A young entrepreneur is holding an online fundraiser to bring more trees to Santa Ana park.

Rubén Benicio, founder of Latitud40, has an 80,400-peso goal to finance a green project that will begin on June 9. The fundraising page is here.

“The arrival of the hottest months of the year remind us how important the trees are in a place with weather like Yucatán,” Benicio explains in a Vimeo clip. “This year Latitud40 has planned, with support from other organizations, planting medium-height and tall trees in one of the most special public spaces of Mérida.”

Latitud40 is a “social real estate company” that sets aside 70 percent of its profits to pay for green projects like this one.

Benicio, who is from Spain, has lived in Yucatán for four years. His firm’s name comes from Spain’s alignment with the 40th Parallel North.

Benicio developed his business model at Anahuac Mayab University’s Parque Tecnia.

Like many other parks in the Centro, Parque Santa Ana on Calle 60 and 47 is heavy on cement and light on greenery. More trees to fill in the park’s bare patches would bring instant benefits.

“Currently the park has a lack of trees and shade areas that make it, during the day, a hot place with little social and cultural life,” Benicio writes on the fundraising page.

“Trees are capable of lowering the temperature up to 8 degrees, reduce air pollution, increase urban biodiversity, and it’s proven that trees improve physical and mental health,” Benicio says on a video that promotes the project.

The park’s visitors won’t have to wait for saplings to grow. Workers will plant 35 native adult trees, Balché, Ciricote, Chacá, Xcanlol, Maculis and Ramón, all between 3 to 6 meters high.

This is the first urban tree project financed collectively in Mérida, he said. But he’s working in conjunction with the city and with INAH, which regulates historic sites.

After several trips to the park with INAH officials, he said, he was allowed to increase the number of new trees, from 14 to 35.

Lee Steele

Lee Steele is the founding director of Roof Cat Media and has published Yucatán Magazine and other titles since 2012.