President López Obrador will issue a decree to protect the Sumidero Canyon National Park in Chiapas and increase its territory by more than 3,000 hectares.
The newspaper Milenio reported that the national park will increase in size from 21,789 to 25,100 hectares, a 15% enlargement.
The presidential decree – exactly when it will be issued is unclear – will aim to stop the encroachment of urbanization on the Sumidero Canyon, put an end to the extraction of rock from the national park and prevent the accumulation of trash.
It will also seek to protect the park’s forest, the sheer 1,000-meter-high cliffs that border both sides of the Grijalva river and the habitat of endangered species that call the area home.
Among the species that live in and around the canyon are mushroom-tongued salamanders, cinnamon hummingbirds, crocodiles, spider monkeys and a kind of bream that is endemic to the area.
One section of cliff in the park is at risk of collapsing due to the nearby operation of an illegal quarry, at which dynamite is used to extract limestone.
Bordering the state capital Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the Sumidero Canyon was first declared a national park in 1980 but for the next 20 years it wasn’t protected as it should have been, Adrian Méndez Barrera, a regional director of the Natural Protected Areas Commission (Conanp), told Milenio.
He said that more than 9,000 hectares of land that were decreed part of the park have been overtaken by urbanization.
Land on which 91 neighborhoods have been built will be excluded from the park’s territory but another section of unprotected land will be added and increase its overall size, Méndez explained.
“. . . We’re going to add a new area to ensure forest cover throughout [the municipalities of] Chiapa de Corzo, Tuxtla Gutiérrez and San Fernando . . .” he said.
Land within the park’s borders has been targeted by illegal loggers in the past.
The Sumidero Canyon is one of Chiapas’ premier tourist destinations. Tens of thousands of visitors admire the canyon and its wildlife from boats that travel up and down a 30-kilometer stretch of the Grijalva river, which runs between the imposing cliffs.
Source: Milenio (sp)