U.S. Has Advice for AMLO on Tree Loss Plaguing Forestation Plan
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. will suggest ways to deal with an unintended loss of trees that’s plaguing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s flagship forestation program, according to its ambassador to Mexico.
Asked if the U.S. would push for changes to stop the forest coverage loss that’s occurring under the multi-billion-dollar program, Ambassador Ken Salazar said the country would “provide recommendations” to its neighbor about the issue, while noting Mexico has sovereignty over its project.
AMLO, as the Mexican president is known, has repeatedly asked for Washington’s support to help expand the program into Central America as part of an effort to stem migration through economic development. Yet an embassy spokesperson said the U.S. is not putting resources into the project or giving any technical expertise.
“Maybe standards can be improved -- yes. If we’re going to have sustainable development and you’re going to have a reforestation program that works, you need to make sure that that’s happening,” said Salazar, who as Interior Secretary under President Barack Obama dealt closely with issues surrounding the protection of federal land.
A Bloomberg News investigation in March revealed that farmers have slashed and burned land in the jungle of Mexico’s southeast in order to have deforested terrain that’s eligible for the program. The Sembrando Vida, or Sowing Life, project pays people to grow fruit trees in blighted areas, but one study estimated it may have caused the loss of nearly 73,000 hectares of forest coverage in its first full year.
Salazar, a former senator from Colorado, said he believed through his work with state governors in the Yucatan peninsula they could create “one of the crown jewels of conservation in the Western hemisphere.”
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