Holbox: development plan challenged. Holbox: development would take place in protected area.

Federal agencies challenge Isla Holbox urban development plan

Municipality proposes new population center

The federal government and municipal authorities on Isla Holbox are once again at odds over land use controls on the island in Quintana Roo: the former is challenging a new urban development plan.

The federal Environment Secretariat (Semarnat) and the Commission for Natural Protected Areas (Conanp) have presented a formal constitutional complaint before the Supreme Court against the plan prepared by the municipality of Lázaro Cárdenas, in which Holbox is located.

Semarnat said in a statement that the plan, released April 13, is not only unconstitutional but threatens the environment of Holbox and the greater Yum Balam protected area.

Both agencies claim that the municipality is overstepping its authority and breaking agreements reached between both agencies and the island advisory council.

The municipality’s proposal establishes a new population center along 22 kilometers of otherwise virgin beaches.

But the federal authorities say the development would be in clear contradiction of a federal law on ecological balance and environmental protection that states that” no new population centers can be authorized within natural protected areas.”

The entire island is part of an area in northern Quintana Roo known as the natural protected area (ANP) of Yum Balam, created by decree in 1994 for the protection of plant and animal life.

Four mangrove species are considered protected within the ANP, as are the sand dunes, the rainforests, the lagoons and the waters offshore where coral reefs grow.

There are estimates that more than 1,100 animal and plant species are found in Yum Balam, 112 of which are considered threatened.

A similar controversy erupted in November, only in that case it was islanders reacting negatively to a federal land use plan. Residents said a comprehensive management plan for the island was authoritarian.

Source: 20 Minutos (sp)

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