Mexico is considered a megadiverse country for it is home to an important part of the planet’s biodiversity. It has 139 million hectares of total forest cover of which 60% is composed of forest and jungle.
According to data form Global Forest Watch (GFW), Mexico is ranked number 17 in the list of countries that lost the most forest coverage in 2018. The average loss of forest coverage for the period 2016-2018 was 281,000 hectares almost 100,000 hectares more than during the period 2010-2015. The loss of the 267,731 hectares represents 0.5% of the country’s forest coverage in 2000. In an international comparison of relative coverage loss, Mexico is in the center of the distribution curve below the average. The four states that show the largest loss of coverage are Chiapas, Campeche, Oaxaca, and Veracruz which together count for more than half of the total national loss in 2018. Chiapas was the state that registered the largest loss with 54,339 hectares approx. 20% of the country’s total coverage loss.
The main causes for forest degradation and coverage loss in Mexico are: overexploitation and illegal logging, demographic pressure, forest fires, cattle raising, plagues, and expansion of agriculture lands. The main challenges faced by the forest sector are: insecurity related to land ownership, overexploitation, and lack of plans to manage the forest resources, lack of governance in issues related to communities and commercial forestry. Furthermore, the lack of an institutional and legal framework undermines the promotion of sustainable forestry. The states that show the greatest loss of coverage are also on the top of the list of entities with lower development levels of Human Development Indexes (HDI), with the exception of Campeche.
During the Paris Climate summit in 2015, Mexico voluntarily committed to attaining a net rate of zero deforestation by 2030. The country is also part of the Bonn Challenge, a global effort to restore 150 million hectares of forest by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030. Mexico also has set a target for 2030 to achieve zero rate deforestation.
Mexico has several public policy tools to achieve its pledges like the National Forest Program and National strategy for the Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation. However, there needs to be an increased inter sector coordination directing policies to a common goal that allows the work of the environmental and development agencies with an integrated vision of sustainable management of the territory.
Agricultural and livestock management, the country’s third largest source of emissions (approximately 14%), have a been targeted for emission-reducing practices, such as the introduction of biodigesters. The biodigesters are mainly used in small to medium farms to convert organic material into renewable energy like biogas and other material that is mainly used as fertilizer. However, there are still areas of opportunity to strengthen mitigation through public policies compatible with meeting the country’s food requirements and reducing the pressure on the forest cover.
By international standards, agricultural productivity in Mexico is low, especially among smallholder farmers who are estimated to be no more than 20% as productive as commercial farmers. Further, state investment has favored private lands over community lands, and private lands have thus benefited more from irrigation and other infrastructure projects (FAO 2016; UNCTAD 2012).
The sustainable Rural Development Law of 2018 aims at promoting the efficient use of land in line with agro-environmental conditions for the production promotion and adoption of technologies to preserve land productivity, biodiversity, and environmental services. The total emissions from agriculture and cattle raising during 2015 were 102,059.50 MtCO2e, of which 69% were related to cattle raising and 31% to agriculture. The increase in Green House Gas (GHG) emissions from the sector is related to an increase in the agriculture frontier (the expansion of land dedicated to agriculture by incorporating new land previously used for other means), greater consumption of synthetic fertilizers and greater animal population.
As part of its mitigation efforts the country aims to reduce by 8% the emissions that arise from the agriculture sector through three goals: promoting sustainable technology adoption, biodigesters adopted by farms and recovery of grasslands. Productivity will be accomplished by a combination of capitalization, sustainability and innovation in the sector.
Activity Rating: *** Right Direction
Mexico has in place several agencies, policies and tools in place to ensure the protection of forest and natural lands as well as improve technological advances in rural areas. But in order to achieve the emissions commitments more collaboration is required between sectors as well as an approach that unites social development with sustainable development and productivity.
Mexico has made good progress on its national legislation and plans to mitigate and adapt to climate change. However, this has not been reflected in the reduction of national GHG emissions or in alleviating the impact of climate change on the most vulnerable population groups.
There is a need to ensure that technology and regenerative agriculture practices are introduced to preserve forests and agriculture and cattle raising integration to recover degraded lands and prevent unnecessary expansion of land for agricultural use. It is also necessary to improve coordination to develop policies that will effectively protect forests areas, incorporate conservation and social development for local communities, increase regenerative agriculture practices and the use of renewable energies and action lines which incorporate mitigation and adaptation strategies, to strengthen capacities to respond to the needs of vulnerable populations in rural and urban areas.
Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources- Josefa González Blanco
Telephone: 54900900 Ext. 12000/12076/12001
Address: Ejercito Nacional 223,
Col. Anáhuac, Delegación Miguel Hidalgo,
Ciudad de México, México,
Director of the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change- Amparo Martínez Arroyo
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Mexico Country Manager Patricia Prat
- Mexico forest coverage since 2001
- Sexta Comunicación Nacional y Segundo Informe Bienal de Actualización ante la Convención Marco de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Cambio Climático
- Mexico country profile, Land Links
Image Source: CONAFOR – Picture by Eric Ruiz Mora
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