Photo: Charlotte Harrison/Unsplash

By KELIN DILLON

Because Mexico has lost some 662,000 hectares of primary forest and 4.2 million hectares of tree cover over the past 18 years, organizations like Greenpeace have revealed that more than 15 percent of the nation’s primary forest has been put at risk by illegal deforestation to create fields or pastures and illicit logging practices.

“Illegal logging in Mexico is a generalized problem that has too many edges and bottlenecks,” said Emilio Cruz of Reforestamos México, a group looking to promote Mexico’s legal timber industry. “The reasons range from the fact that it is cheaper to operate illegally or that it is another organized crime business, to avoiding taxes and permits for the export of wood.”

Cruz went on to say that, “in Mexico, 24 million cubic meters of wood are consumed per year.”

“If we take into account that 8 million are legally produced and 8 are imported, this means that there are another 8 million cubic meters that we do not know where they come from,” he said.

Figures from the government’s National Forestry Commission (Conafor) back up Cruz’s claims, with 2019 reports estimating more than 7 million cubic meters of wood coming from clandestine logging, a market valued at 7 billion pesos. 

According to Reforestamos México, there are five different types of clandestine logging: ant logging, which is for self-consumption and ranges from one to six cubic meters per week; small commercialization, which utilizes chainsaws and trucks and produces from six to 10 cubic meters weekly; “high commercialization” and “industrialization and warehousing;” and the nation’s alleged organized crime logging, purported to range from 10 cubic meters a week to more than 25 cubic meters.

In the past two decades, the number of “at-risk” critical forests throughout the country grew from 100 to 122, spanning from the jungle in Chiapas all the way into northern states like Sonora, bolstered by corruption and impunity toward this illicit market and its perpetrators.

Mexico’s National Forestry Program for 2020 to 2024 now operates with a goal of making sure these 122 at-risk forest areas do not expand, while apparently working toward a 2040 goal of “having eradicated illegal logging” by “empowering” the regions and people.

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