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Mérida’s road rules: When can you cut down a tree?

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We love tree-lined streets, but sometimes it’s time for a tree to go.

Its roots may be damaging our driveways, its branches may be blocking our vehicles, or it may be diseased. It’s also important to make sure no trees are cut down unnecessarily or maliciously.

Cutting down a tree in a Mérida public road.
Cutting down a tree in a Mérida public road. Photo: Courtesy.

“Urban trees in Merida and across Yucatán continue being cut down and demolished with impunity,” says Luis Borjas Romero, president of the state’s Permanent Commission of Justice.

The lawmaker stated that anyone who intends to prune, tear down or transplant trees growing on public roads must first request authorization from their municipality. The cutting of a tree root will be allowed if authorities determine that the safety of a property or urban infrastructure is compromised.

Ceiba in García Ginerés, over 100 years old. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Sanctions are in force against anyone who arbitrarily cuts or prunes trees on public roads. Fines can exceed 600,000 pesos, with jail time from six months to two years. The person charged is also forced to replace the tree with a similar replacement.

To avoid surprises or displeasures, the best thing to do is to follow the process dictated by the City Council.

When you have decided a tree on the street needs to be cut down, the first step is to get permission from the Urban Flora Committee. They have 15 workdays to respond to an application to remove a tree.

Tree in front of yellow hacienda.
The Xcumpich tree. Photo: Verónica Garibay.

If the commission approves, the tree will be cut down. If the tree is merely clashing with power lines, that may be the only work that is OK’d.

The municipality has no jurisdiction over private property. This would be a matter of coordinating with neighbors and ensuring its safe removal.

In Yucatán Magazine: Merida to crack down on vandals who cut down trees

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