A new police force whose main task will be safeguarding the country’s natural protected areas and enforcing environmental laws will be created as a division of Mexico’s Federal Police.
The Environment Secretariat (Semarnat) and the National Security Commission (CNS) have agreed to the creation of the Environmental Police, or Gendarmerie Ambiental, to police parks and biosphere reserves and monitor and protect natural protected areas.
The new force will be overseen by the CNS while Semarnat will be in charge of its environmental training. Both institutions will collaborate in its operations.
Semarnat chief Rafael Pacchiano said the police will attempt to prevent crimes such as illegal logging, wildlife trafficking and acts of violence against visitors to natural protected areas, as well as protecting wildlife and their ecosystems.
To begin, he explained, 300 officers will be deployed in priority areas.
“We understand the country’s security needs, and thus we will define which areas shall be considered ‘red flags’” where the Environmental Police will focus first.
Such critical areas will include the Lacandon Jungle in Chiapas; the Gulf of California, or Sea of Cortés; and the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in the states of México and Michoacán, where incursions into protected areas have been detected.
According to Pacchiano, the Environmental Police will also work with local environmental authorities and will enforce local programs such as Mexico City’s no-drive days program called Hoy No Circula.