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San Blas forests, Mexico threatened

Envoyé par : Doug Brown (Adresse IP journalisée)
Date : dim. 16 mars 2003 19:23:06

I am a member of "El Manglar," a local environmental
interest group in San Blas, Mexico. (see
[elmanglar.com] for details)

I am writing because I found something on the web that
indicates you probably have an interest in the bird
habitat in the San Blas area. It has recently come to
our attention that the forest area around the village
of Singayta, which is a very well known birding zone,
has become dangerously threatened.

Changes in the Mexican land tenure law, which I
describe below in greater detail, appear to favor
forest removal by ranching and cattle interests.
This message is written in the expectation that by
spreading the word of this threat to the community of
interest we will be able to generate ideas and
resources to mitigate the harmful consequences to this
precious resource that we believe will flow from the
new land tenure rules.

The forests around Singayta belong to the San Blas
Ejido (ejidos are agricultural collectives). Recent
changes in the Mexican law relating ejidos allow them
to privatize. The San Blas Ejido has elected to do
just that. The ejidatarios (collective members) have
now been issued title deeds to their individual
parcels. Under the old law these lands could not be
alienated from the ejido. Under the new law the
ejidatarios are free to sell. This is not a
particular problem for the arable parcels, but there
is a clear threat to the forest lands.

Traditionally, the forests have been seen by the
ejiditarios as largely unproductive--used only for
harvesting palm fronds for roofing materials and
artisanal timber production. These activities have
left the basic structure of the forest intact. In our
discussions with the ejidatarios (there are on the
order of 40 families) we have detected a definite
consensus leaning toward a quick sale of these lands
for what would be, by local standards, a large
windfall. The problem is that the only ready market
for these properties is with the cattle ranching and
commercial logging interests, neither of which promise
to show much concern for preserving the forest values
of the landscape.

Our initial reaction to this situation is to develop
means of increasing the value to the property owners
of the forest in its present form, and thereby
increase their willingness to resist converting the
resource to other uses. We have just begun, but we
are currently thinking along three lines:

1) developing new non-destructive economic forest
activities,

2 ) developing services local inhabitants can provide
to those who visit the area, and

3) an environmental education program for both local
residents and visitors.

Our expectation is that other ideas will emerge as we
work on the issue. That, in part, is the point of
this message. We would like to form a network of
interested stakeholders that will funnel creative
ideas back to us as our efforts progress. You can
help. Here are a few suggestions:

1) We want to create a mailing list of people and
organizations who are interested in this issue to keep
them informed of our activities and to draw upon as
the work progresses. If you would like to be included
on such a mailing list, you can simply reply to this
message. We will NOT contact you again if you do not
reply.

2) Send us any ideas you may have about ways that we
can proceed. I am certain that there are many
possible options that have been found successful by
others faced with similar circumstances and we would
like to take advantage of this experience.

3) Pass this message along to any organizations
and/or individuals you think may be interested. I am
convinced that networking will be key to a happy
outcome.

4) Stop by and see us the next time you get to San
Blas. We are headquartered at the Tumbo de Yako on
Batillion Street, on the way to the beach. Have a
coffee and some of Juan Banana' s famous banana bread.
Thank you for your interest.

Regards,
Doug Brown
El Manglar [elmanglar.com]



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