The following article was submitted to Mangrove Action Project, and has been translated below for our English readers
COLIMA, Colombia, 5th of May (approx.) - Despite all the scientific recognition that mangroves provide a huge diversity of environmental resources and services, which are translated in social well-being, development, investment and job vacancies, the destruction of mangroves in Mexico still persists - have warned environmental groups, such as Red Manglar Internacional, Red Manglar Mexico and Bios Iguana.
In the study "La defensa del manglar en México" ("The defense of mangroves in Mexico"), those organizations denounce that the Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) has been involved in the authorization of underhand projects on ecosystem rehabilitation during the last decade, without sufficient technical substantiation or respect to legal instruments, and so causing environmental destruction.
Moreover, they reject the idea that this dependence promotes the protection of mangroves as the international forums. "Semarnat has taken stepts to weaken regulations that protect these ecosystem, becoming an institution that promotes and defends private initiative related to tourism, industries and ports", they accuse.
This situation, they add, has led the fight for the defense of Mexican mangroves to be increasingly held in international courts, "for lack of security in Mexico, respect to the human rights and the right to the exercise of law".
A recent phenomenon towards social organizations that question the insuficient technical and legal justification to approve changes in land use and to authorize statements of environmental impacts, they expose, has been the governmental strategy to incorporate as consultants academics from public universities who finally agree to endorse the destruction of mangroves.
"Nothing ensures that the government action to previlege private interests through the permanent tactics of social disinformation, lack of transparency, corruption, and criminalization of pacific and legal social mobilization for ecosystems won't persist", they state.
Despite having 11 thousand kilometers of coastline, they refer, Mexico has no laws to define management and exploitation specifically, a situation that makes this area vulnerable against tourism development, ports, real estate, aquaculture and high-impact and risk industry.
"This lack of definition of specific public policies and legal framework to define decision-making, creates a greater chance of environmental destruction, dispossession of land to peasants and indigenous peoples, as well as a permanent impairment to towns and cities", say environmental organizations.
According to figures from the National Commission on Use and Knowledge of Biodiversity (CONABIO), cited in the study, in 2009 the recorded mangrove area in Mexico was of 770,057 hectares, distributed in the 17 states with coastline in the country.
Yucatán Peninsula region has 55% of these ecosystems, with 423,751 hectares, followed by the North Pacific region, with 24.5%, ie 188,900 hectares; the Gulf regions of Mexico and South Pacific have 11 and 8.6% respectively, while in the Pacific Centre there is only 0.9% of the mangrove area.
In their study, the environmental groups present a case series of projects for tourism, ports, industris and real estate that showed anomalies in its approval process, in the states of Sinaloa, Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas.