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Forests of Michoacan, Mexico disappearing

Forests of Michoacán, Mexico disappearing

Forests of Michoacán, Mexico disappearing
Rhett A. Butler,
November 7, 2005

90% of the tropical forest in Lázaro Cárdenas, Aquila y Coahuayana — municipalities in the state of Michoacán, Mexico — has been destroyed according to an article in Cambio de Michoacán. Cattle ranching, mining, and the harvesting of precious wood are blamed as the principle causes behind the forest loss.

Home to wildlife including deer, jaguar, puma, yellow-headed parrots, and exotic reptiles, the forests of Michoacán are an important part of Mexico’s biodiversity. Mexico is ranked the fifth most biodiverse country on earth with more than 450 species of mammals, 1000 birds, 330 amphibians, and 640 reptiles. However, many of these animals are increasingly threatened by habitat loss, hunting, and the illegal wildlife trade.

Earlier this year Mexican authorities sent in the army to protect endangered sea turtles from poaching after some 80 protected Olive Ridley sea turtles were found chopped to pieces on Escobilla beach in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Authorities in Michoacán are working to protect the remaining forests by convincing farmers not to hunt endangered species and cut timber from local forests. It is unclear as to whether these efforts are of much success.

Overall Mexico loses an average of 631,000 hectares of forest per year — about 1.1% of its forest cover — according to figures provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Despite this deforestation rate, Mexico still has some of the most extensive tropical forest cover of any country in the world.

This news item used information from Cambio de Michoacán.

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