AMLO Says Mexico to Probe Deforestation in Flagship Program

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Wednesday his government would investigate how to improve his flagship environmental program, after a Bloomberg News report showed it had encouraged widespread deforestation.

The $3.4 billion Sembrando Vida program, or Sowing Life, pays people in rural areas to plant trees in deforested zones, but may have caused 73,000 hectares of forest coverage loss in 2019, according to a study by the World Resources Institute. Farmers in southeastern Mexico showed Bloomberg News during a recent trip to the region how they had chopped down and burned trees to be able to receive government payments to plant saplings in degraded land.

Lopez Obrador denied that mass deforestation was taking place when questioned about it by Bloomberg News at a daily press briefing in Mexico City. But when asked if he would commit to investigating possible improvements to the program, Lopez Obrador replied, “Yes, of course.”

“We have to find a way for them to work well,” Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, said of his government programs. “Sowing Life is the most important reforestation program that is being applied in the world.”

AMLO Says Mexico to Probe Deforestation in Flagship Program

Apart from the deforestation, locals and experts are concerned about the longevity of the program, the legal status of plots and of an approach by some program administrators that fails to take into account basic agricultural practices.

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