BY FERNANDO RODRIGUEZ
In comparison to other cities and states in Mexico, the 1,000 tree donation from the Pro Forestal Civil Organization for La Paz is small, but planting trees in a city in desperate need of shade is definitely exciting. Pro Forestal promises to deliver 9,000 more trees throughout 2024. Adding 10,000 trees to the city’s beautification project and contributing to a healthier, more vibrant environment is a noble cause.
On an early Saturday morning in mid-October, a group of 60 members from a Morelia food processing plant loaded onto buses and traveled to Tacambaro, Michoacan, and planted trees as part of a first annual reforestation campaign. This project was started by employees from Morelia who wanted to make a difference in their environment and support the tree-planting company, Simplot. The employees organized themselves, assigned roles, and got to work. After only a few hours, they planted more than 2,000 trees.
Earthgonomic México, A.C., is a non-profit civic organization that works to promote the preservation and restoration of ecological balance. On December 2nd, the Viva Aerobús “Live People in Action” volunteer team carried out its first day of forest maintenance with the help of Earthgonomic México A.C. It took place in the Desierto de los Leones Protected Natural Area surrounding Mexico City.
Earthgonomic has a team of professionals who have implemented a plan to achieve sustainable forest management of Christmas tree plantations around and within the city limits of Mexico City. The company also suggests buyers make sure that the Christmas tree has a SEMARNAT-certified label, which means that it comes from a certified commercial plantation, which guarantees the planting, growth and proper cutting of trees.
A program implemented by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) currently pays around 420,000 farmers $4,500 pesos (about $213 USD) a month to plant trees. The goal is to reforest a little over one million hectares of degraded land across Mexico and grow more than one billion plants by the end of March 2026. Unfortunately, that program Sembrando Vida, or Sowing Life is linked to widespread destruction as well as regeneration.
Morelia, Michoacan’s Mayor, Alfonso Alcázar, has started a plan of planting one million trees per year along the countryside. A million trees planted in Morelia would considerably increase the city’s capacity to capture and store carbon, thus contributing to the reduction of global warming, as well as creating a natural barrier that would decrease air pollution in Morelia, and thus improve the air quality.
And here in La Paz, locals are getting excited about 10,000 trees, when the goal should be along the same lines as other cities and states of Mexico that are planting millions of trees to save the earth and improve life in their region.
The Ejido Verde company, organized in 2009, grants interest-free loans to local communities in the state of Michoacán, Mexico, to plant and tend to pine trees for the tapping of resin, a multibillion-dollar global industry.
The firm’s innovative business model improves degraded agricultural landscapes by cultivating plantations while providing traditional communities with long-term sustainable income.
Local stories in Michoacán tell of how, when the Spanish invaded what would later be known as Mexico in the 1500s, they found Indigenous communities tapping pine trees and using the resin in sizzling-bright torches and lamps that lit the Aztec Empire capital of Tenochtitlan, today’s Mexico City. The Spanish appropriated the resin to use as a sealant on their damaged ships and, as colonization spread, sent the valued product home to Europe. Today, pine resin remains an important economic commodity not just in Mexico’s Michoacán state, but throughout the world. It’s a key ingredient in turpentine, which is used in paint, varnishes and wax.
It’s also used in all sorts of everyday products, including chewing gum, carbonated beverages, tape, firelighters, and pine oil for lubricants and disinfectants. All told pine resin is a global $10 billion industry that’s expected to grow significantly over the next decade. In Michoacán, the Indigenous Purhépecha peoples and other traditional communities have continued tapping pines for sale to transnational traders.
In the first decade of the 21st century, the Pinosa Group, a pine resin company working in the region since the 1920s, grew concerned that tapping would disappear entirely unless drastic, innovative action was taken to restore the area’s pine forests. The company opted to plant pines on degraded agricultural land, while helping local communities thrive, and still make a profit with pine resin.
“We all want to make a profit,” Ejido Verde CEO Shaun Paul told Mongabay. “But we have certain social, environmental values that are just as important as the need for profit. We want to make the environment better, not worse. We want to help people improve their lives socio-economically. We want to be regenerative.”
Globally, experts say, planting initiatives often fail because trees are planted too quickly, in the wrong season, in improper soil conditions, or without proper long-term care. In Ejido Verde’s case, the problem seemed to be that most communities weren’t looking after the trees. It takes 10 to 12 years for a pine to produce resin, and tending those trees for so long, to yield a future financial gain, proved too much to ask of local people. Tapping a pine tree doesn’t require cutting it down, only cutting into its bark, so residents can return to the same trees year after year, making it a reliable source of revenue.
La Paz, of course, has mostly year-round summer which could be a deciding factor as to what type of trees get planted; however, planting trees is something all Southern Baja California should be open and receptive to. The area could become a greener region with more trees, and more shade in parks and throughout entire cities.
“When you get involved in these types of tree planting activities, you realize how important it is to plant trees and how they recycle oxygen. Human beings are guilty of everything that is happening with global warming, so we should do our part to save the planet,” said Monika Navarette, a holistic Shaman healer from Cabo San Lucas.