An independent study by the CartoCrítica organization (a Mexican civil initiative that promotes public access to georeferenced socio-environmental information) detailed that of the 26,763 acres occupied for the construction and works of the Tren Maya, 61% correspond to jungles that are now have been deforested, while at least 87% of the clearing of natural vegetation carried out for the works lacks authorizations for Change of Land Use on Forest Lands (CUSTF).
In their June 2023 deforestation and forest management analysis report, experts in geography and ecosystems warn that one of the star projects of the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador implies great risks for forest cover, the biodiversity, in the aquifer and the network of caves and cenotes. Also, they warned that the economic and development model promoted by the government goes against the traditional life of the native people.
Con relación a la respuesta de Semarnat sobre la plataforma cartográfica que muestra la deforestación ocasionada por el proyecto “Tren Maya”, las organizaciones que suscribimos el presente comunicado deseamos manifestar lo siguiente: https://t.co/KkYyzACRwS— CartoCrítica (@Cartocritica) August 4, 2023
According to the data provided by the mapping tool, the sections where the greatest unauthorized clearing has occurred are Section 4 (Izamal – Cancun) with 3,251 acres, section 6 (Tulum – Chetumal) with 3,232 acres, and section 5 (Cancún – Tulum) with 2,102 acres, the latter has been the subject of continuous controversy because Fonatur has disregarded the injunctions that both communities and ecosystem expert organizations had won to stop deforestation works.
The 16454 deforested acres are equivalent to almost ten times the area that the Chapultepec Forest occupies today, in Mexico City, and almost 20 times the area of Central Park. To carry out this analysis, satellite images from November 2018, May and June 2023 were compared. Data from the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (Conabio) on the existing soil cover was used as a reference. before the megaproject.
The CartoCrítica organization is an effort of experts in environmental matters, who, among other studies, have mapped socio-territorial conflicts in past six-year terms, such as dispossession by mining companies and megaprojects. This research was carried out with the collaboration of other organizations dedicated to the study of conflicts over the environment, such as the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (Cemda), the Mexican Civil Council for Sustainable Forestry (CCMSS) and the Heinrich Böll Foundation.
Hours after the revelation of the map on deforestation, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) dismissed the study through a tweet, where it points out that there are “inconsistencies” in the data presented by the organizations. However, to date, nothing related to the ecological impacts of the imposition of the project has been made transparent in any government media.
During the press conference where the organizations collaborating with the cartographic platform presented the results of the analysis, representatives warned that this study still does not include real estate, hotel and industrial speculation projects that are already being carried out in the Yucatan Peninsula and that will further aggravate the problem of deforestation in the Mayan jungle.
Every year, between 98,842 and 222,394 acres of vegetation are deforested in the Yucatan Peninsula. This dynamic process is being generated by the energy, tourism, mining, real estate and agro-industrial projects that have been promoted in the region for some 20 years. This will intensify with the Mayan Train, which will interconnect and enhance these projects.
The Yucatan Peninsula is home to the Selva Maya, the second most important tropical forest in America after the Amazon. In addition, in that territory is the largest underwater cave system in the world. This natural patrimony is at risk, even greater with the fragmentation of the forest, the destruction of the habitat of hundreds of species of flora and fauna, the contamination of the aquifer, the destruction of underground cavities, the filling of wetlands, the interruption of natural water flows and the destruction of the livelihoods of indigenous communities.