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  • Archive for July, 2016

    Demand for avocado sees Mexico deforestation levels surge, research finds

    2016 - 07.22

    The rise in demand for avocado in the US has led to widespread deforestation in central Mexico, according to the latest research.

    The Mexican National Institute for Forestry, Farming and Fisheries Research found that Mexican farmers could make much higher profits growing avocados and as a consequence are cutting down pine forests to plant young avocado trees. Once these have matured and grown, the farmers cut even more forests down to give the avocado trees more sunlight.

    According to data, avocado production in the Michoacan region tripled between 2001 and 2010 but exports rose ten times. This resulted in the loss of approximately 690 hectares of forest land a year during that period. Farmers can make as much as 383,000 a year from an avocado plot due to the high demand for the avocado.

    Along with the loss of habitat for many animals, deforestation has a significant impact on livelihoods and can result in significant movement of people. According to Greenpeace Mexico: “Beyond the displacement of forests and the effects on water retention, the high use of agricultural chemicals and the large volumes of wood needed to pack and ship avocados are other factors that could have negative effects on the area’s environment and the wellbeing of its inhabitants,” it said.

    The Mexican government has attempted to prevent illegal deforestation to no avail. As recently as July, federal police arrested 13 people and seized two avocado plants that were being used to plant an avocado orchard.

    Mario Tapia Vargas, a researcher at Mexico’s National Institute for Forestry, Farming and Fisheries Research, told the Associated Press: “Even where they aren’t visibly cutting down forest, there are avocados growing underneath [the pine boughs], and sooner or later they’ll cut down the pines completely.”