MEXICO – Claiming that fire management policy has been “practically forgotten,” a group of environmental organizations has urged all three levels of government to allocate sufficient funds to combat the growing wildfire problem in Mexico.
“It’s clear that today, there is not the capacity or sufficient institutional resources to attend to the number of fires that are currently occurring in the country,” the organizations, among which are Greenpeace, the Mexican Civil Council for Sustainable Forestry and the Mexico Climate Initiative, said in a statement.
They claimed that Mexico this year has faced the worst forest fires in a decade.
“… The policy of fire management has been practically forgotten. The civil society organizations demand that the federal government …[develop] a comprehensive fire prevention and management strategy,” the statement said, adding that forest communities and social enterprises should be involved in the strategy.
The environmental organizations, among which are also several smaller, local groups, also demanded that federal, state and municipal authorities allocate “sufficient budget resources, personnel and material to be able to attend to the management of fire in the country in a comprehensive, systematic and preventative way.”
The authorities should immediately support communities affected by fire and rebuild damaged infrastructure, they added.
The organizations noted that, according to weekly National Forest Commission reports, there have been 3,735 forest fires in 2021 across 29 of Mexico’s 32 states. More than 127,000 hectares of land have been affected, they said.
“In recent years, there has been a series of catastrophic fires both at a global and national level. In 2017 in Mexico, forest fires destroyed 172,076 hectares of territory, 92,243 hectares the following year and 69,047 hectares in 2019. All these figures have been easily surpassed so far this year,” the environmental groups said.
“This problem … has worsened in recent years due to global climate change, and it’s becoming even worse in Mexico due to the dismantling of environmental institutions in charge of designing, implementing, coordinating and evaluating actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change,” they said.
Mexico forestry agency Conafor said on Twitter that as of 11 a.m. Tuesday the nation was battling 78 active forest fires in 17 states. Fifteen of those fires were in Michoacán, the state with the most active fires at the moment.