AMLO’s Tree-Planting Scheme Is Ravaging Mexico’s Rainforests

Photo: Eco Jungle


Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) supposed “largest reforestation program in the world” is actually eroding the country’s rich rainforests, according to Greenpeace.

In fact, the federal Sembrando Vida (Sowing Life) reforestation program is now the main cause of deforestation in Mexico, according to a report released by Greenpeace earlier this month.

Half of the 5,000 Sembrando Vida parcels registered in the southern coastal state of Quintana Roo are in areas that are classified as jungles, according to the government’s own records, and there is strong evidence that the program has caused a loss of vegetation cover and deforestation in Mexico’s most important forest area.

The daily newspaper El Universal recently obtained the location of 5,142 plots of the 10,000 that are registered in the Sembrando Vida program in Quintana Roo and crossed them with the land use map of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi).

Almost half of those plots, 2,426, were in areas classified as natural jungles, while another 2,651 plots were in pastures and temporary agricultural areas bordering rainforests, thus encroaching on the jungled areas, often using slash-and-burn methods.

All of the abovementioned plots were analyzed by the newspaper through satellite photos, which showed that in at least 1,032 of the parcels there was deforestation and loss of forest cover.

The controversial, 71-billion-peso Sembrando Vida program, which AMLO has touted as his flagship environmental act, pays small farmers 5,000 pesos a month to grow cornfields and timber trees on two and a half hectares of land.

Nationwide, there are currently 440,000 beneficiaries of the program, tilling some 1.1 million hectares of land.

But in essence, the Sembrando Vida program creates incentives for deforestation, encouraging the farmers to encroach on forested land to set up their supposed reforestation plots.

Moreover, the program is loosely monitored and lends itself to corrupt practices and manipulation.

Many of the Sembrando Vida beneficiaries have alleged that they have to pay kickbacks to middlemen, and others have said that they cannot keep the seedlings they plant alive because of a shortage of adequate irrigation and farming tools.

And in some instances, participating farmers have admitted to cutting down trees in order to replant new ones and receive payments.

According to the El Universal report, of the Quintana Roo Sembrando Vida plots it reviewed, 64 parcels were registered at least twice and 17 were located within urbanized areas.


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