The clearing of land to install a concert venue in Mexico’s premier wine-producing region triggered a protest Saturday, while federal environmental authorities shut down the project.
Concert Promoter APM Producciones cleared native semi-desert vegetation from a hillside property in the Valle de Guadalupe, located in the municipality of Ensenada, Baja California.
The company intended to install a stage and hold two concerts featuring singer-songwriter Christian Nodal at the venue last weekend but was forced to cancel Saturday’s event and relocate Sunday’s after the environmental protection agency Profepa and the federal Environment Ministry (Semarnat) shut down its project and seized heavy machinery used to clear the land.
Semarnat said in a statement that APM didn’t have authorization to alter the use of the land on the property, located in the community of Porvenir.
The ministry said Profepa officials visited the site last Friday after receiving numerous complaints from members of the public. During the visit, officials observed the recent removal of vegetation and the presence of heavy machinery, Semarnat said Saturday. “It was also determined that the property is located on forested land,” it said.
APM Producciones rejected the claim that it didn’t have authorization to clear the land. It said that four hectares of land were “cleaned without affecting any plants” to make way for a 1.5-hectare concert space and a 2.5-hectare car park.
“The project includes the construction of villas and the planting of trees and grape vines in accordance with current regulations. We have all the necessary permits both for the project mentioned and … the concert,” it said in a statement Friday.
Meanwhile, protesters from a group called Por un Valle de Verdad (For a True Valley) demonstrated on Saturday against unfettered development they say poses a threat to the Valle de Guadalupe environment.
The group, which protested near the property in question under the slogan “more grapevines, less plunder,” said in a statement that APM caused “devastation of flora and fauna on more than 20 hectares,” an area five times larger than that the company said it cleared.
“This is a project which shows not the least consideration for the environment,” it added. Paula Piojan, a native vegetation expert, described the clearing of the vegetation as a “tragedy.”
“Cleared land takes more than 100 years to recover,” she said, adding that the lack of vegetation on the property will affect its capacity to retain water when it rains.
For his part, Nodal told his 7.8 million Instagram followers that he’s a “great defender of the environment” and would never allow “his image, music and art” to be associated with those who damage it.
His Sunday concert was relocated to Rancho Chichihuas, located just outside the Valle de Guadalupe.