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Ilegal Logging in Mexico

The last two updates were dominated by reports from the Mexican press about the sudden surge in illegal logging throughout the country with particular outrage directed at the logging within the monarch reserves. Two more articles are included in this update, both nicely translated by Carol Cullar, Executive Director Rio Bravo Nature Center Foundation, Inc., Eagle Pass TX. We are still receiving conflicting reports as to whether the illegal logging has been stopped. Logging trucks were seen leaving Sierra Chincua as recently as last week. It isn’t certain whether these trucks were those of loggers or were retrieving logs for the city of Angangueo, which was given the rights to logs not removed by the loggers. One account we received suggested there was still too much activity in the area by loggers to safely conduct surveys of the extent of the deforestation. Aerial photos of the area are not yet available so it may be some time before the degree of deforestation can be evaluated.

The following section contains a series of translations of articles that have appeared in various Mexican publications since the last update. Carol Cullar, Executive Director Rio Bravo Nature Center Foundation, Inc., Eagle Pass TX has kindly provided these translations to allow us all the keep up with events in Mexico.


CISEN investigates illegal logging networks

Reforestation Campaign begins in Monarch Butterfly Zone

Por Adán Rendón/ By Adan Rendon
Grupo Reforma/ Reforma Group

Senguío, Mexico (June 23, 2004). The bands of illegal loggers are now the new target of the Center of Investigation and National Security (CISEN), the intelligence arm of the Federal Government.

The Spokesperson of the Federal Environmental [agency], José Luis Luege Tamargo, revealed yesterday that the CISEN is already investigating the illegal loggers' networks, their form of organization and their principal ringleaders.

"The CISEN is intervening because President (Vicente Fox) has considered the illegal logging a matter of national security", he explained.

Luege Tamargo stated that the Government intelligence apparatus support consists of the delivery of information to PROFEPA.

"The function of an intelligence information center is the knowledge of who, what persons, what organizations, what businesses carry out illicit acts, and to help us with that information", he said.

The environmental agent headed the start of the 2004National Reforestation Campaign from the forests of the monarch butterfly.

In his speech, he qualified the illegal logging as an evil cycle, "that destroys our wealth and destroys our forests".

"Mexico is a country that should be among the first countries of producers and exporters of lumber; (nevertheless), it is today one of the principle importers of lumber in all the world", he admitted.

According to the official, the illegal sale of lumber represents for the illegal loggers the profits of millionaires each year.

"We have perfectly studied that what one pays a coop member does not represent even 20 percent of the real value of that lumber.

Many coop members are deceived. Businesses arrive, professional illegal loggers that offer them money in the hand and obviously they take it because they have need, but they are paying them a miserable price for the lumber", maintained Luege.

The Director of PROFEPA reckoned that annually there is marketed around 7 million cubic meters of illegal lumber per year, the same as lawful lumber.

Nevertheless, he assured that the coordination with CISEN and the State attorney's office has resulted in strong blows to the illegal loggers' networks.

"What CISEN has is that method of systemizing the data, the information of illicit activities, of organizations that carry out illegal activities, and there is coordination", he said.

The Assistant Director of Natural Resources, Diana Ponce Nava, detailed that during the year around 50 operations against illegal logging in the country have been carried out.

The bottom line of that battle, she added, is 20 thousand cubic meters of lumber confiscated and 300 persons detained, 68 of them in the monarch butterfly zone.

The Governor Lazarus Cárdenas Batel recognized that illegal knocking down of trees is a phenomenon that has impacted the organization.

" (The battle against illegal logging) is a priority matter for the country, of national security; it is a matter of the first hierarchy to preserve this wealth", he indicated.

Adding to the problem of illegal logging, the National Forestry Commission recognized yesterday that each year 50 percent of the reforestations in the country is lost.

"Here in Mexico there are places where we are losing 5 trees out of 10 (?), but that is normal", affirmed the Director of CONEFOR, Manuel Reed Segovia.

According to the official, this year will be planted in the country 270 million trees in an area of 170 thousand hectares.


Military fence in 15 zones

The Federal Attorney's Office of Environmental Protection revealed having identified 15 critical zones of illegal logging in the country.

It deals with the same zones where the Mexican Army already carries out dissuasion patrols, indicated the Director of PROFEPA, José Luis Luege Tamargo.

"The Army is in 15 zones throughout the country. We are in Chihuahua, in the sierra Tarahumara; in Durango; in Petatlán, Jalisco; in Coyuca of Catalonian, Gurrero; in Yucatan; Campeche; Chimalapas; in Morelos them; in Puebla and the State of Mexico; in Ajusco, and in the Desierto de los Leones", he explained.

Governor Lazarus Cárdenas considered that the soldiers' presence alone discourages the illegal loggers.

In the offensive against the illegal loggers, the government foresees launching a new blow from another side next week.

"The participation, the backing the Mexican Army is offering us, is responding to a demand from the selfsame population of this region", he recognized.

"The National Chamber of the Construction Industry is going to sign themselves a covenant so that they promote among their affiliates in construction to use only legal lumber", anticipated Luege.

PROFEPA estimates that around 7 million cubic meters of illegal lumber is marketed annually.


They counteract illegal logging

Jaime Márquez/Correspondent The Universal

Thursday, June 24, 2004
States, page 22

They begin a reforestation program in the country.
They detect 15 hot zones where illegal logging has caused serious damages

Morelia, Mich. The 2004 National Reforestation Program started in Michoacán, by means of which they will reforest 170 thousand affected hectares in all the country, though it sows 270 million trees.

José Luis Luege Tamargo, Director of the Federal Attorney's Office of Environmental Protection (PROFEPA), indicated that this program concentrates on 15 red zones at the national level, where the clandestine logging has caused serious damages to the forests.

This illegal logging, indicated the federal official, has placed Mexico among second and third place in the world level of deforestation, since 600 thousand hectares of forests are lost annually.

In the state of Michoacán the critical zones are the Monarch Butterfly Preserve and the Purépecha plateau, in which the permanent presence of the Mexican Army has been deployed to coordinate the policing operations to discourage clandestine logging.

In Michoacán 16 thousand hectares is reforested with 13 million trees, reported Juan José Reyes, director of the Forestry Commission of Michoacán.

The official affirmed that "there's no need to generate paranoia in relation to the illegal logging, yes, it is a very serious problem that we have to fight head-on".

Luege Tamargo indicated that within the battle plans against illegal logging and by instructions of President Vicente Fox, the Monarch zone was selected as one of the most important places to apply the battle plan to illegal logging.

He said that it is an evil cycle that destroys our forests and that puts at risk the life of the Monarch butterfly, therefore we are obliged to fight without quarter [mercy] the phenomenon of clandestine logging.

He expressed that this, "besides putting at risk the lifecycle of the Monarch, brings about the impoverishment of the people, since it has been determined that what they pay a coop member for their lumber does not represent even 20 percent of the real value of the same.

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