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Yucatán has lost over half of its jungle

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
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Over the past 10 years, the Yucatán Peninsula has lost 365,400 hectares of jungle to deforestation. Photo: Courtesy

Deforestation has become so widespread that Yucatán has lost between 60% and 70% of its biodiversity over the last century, according to a study by the environmental association Pronatura.

Yucatán lost approximately 22 thousand hectares of jungle in 2020 alone, but the problem continues to get worse, according to a recent study by Global Forest Watch. 

The main factors contributing to deforestation include unsustainable farming and agricultural practices, as well as the expanding construction and real estate sector

Though the problem is present throughout the entire state, deforestation is most readily observed in Mérida’s periphery where large swaths of land are routinely cleared for development.

“The problem is that what many of these companies are doing is completely legal, it’s imperative that the government set more rigorous standards,” says Efraín Acosta Lugo of Pronatura. 

Aside from Mérida, the worst affected municipalities include Tizimín, Tecax, and Tzucacab, all of which are known for ranching and agriculture. 

Earlier: Over 10 tons of garbage removed from 35 cenotes 

Aside from jungles, one of the ecosystems worst hit by deforestation in Yucatán has been mangroves. 

Unlike jungles, threats to mangroves come chiefly from the construction of roads and other public works. These impact the flow of water and upset delicate mineral and acidity balances.

Mangroves have also been impacted by real-estate developers, especially those in the business of tourism. Environmentalists point out that aside from their importance to Yucatán’s ecosystem, mangroves are important as they serve as a natural barrier against hurricanes and storms, as well as beach erosion.

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