San Rafael park, one of the spaces said to be at risk. San Rafael park, one of the spaces said to be at risk.

Protect green spaces, parks network urges

Group warns storm drain project threatens capital's natural assets

An environmental organization in Guadalajara, Jalisco, has urged authorities to do more to protect the state capital’s natural assets in the face of appropriation for an urban infrastructure project.

Members of the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area Parks Network released a manifesto calling on federal, state and municipal authorities to “immediately stop the attacks on the green areas, parks, hills, ravines, forests and lakes of the city.”

The public declaration comes in response to a planned storm drain project backed by municipal councils and the state government through the Inter-Municipal Water and Sewer Services System (SIAPA).

The project’s proponents say it will help prevent and mitigate flooding in Mexico’s second largest city but its opponents argue that the environmental costs outweigh its benefits.

Priority should be given to the fundamental rights of life, health and sustainability, the manifesto says.

In order to complete the new drainage system — proposed for the municipalities of Guadalajara, Zapopan, Tlaquepaque, Tonalá, Tlajomulco and El Salto — extensive hydraulic infrastructure work needs to be carried out.

A lot of the work encroaches on green areas, sports fields, sub-basins and land owned by municipal, state and federal governments.

Among the more prominent sites that would be affected are the San Rafael, Deán and Solidaridad parks and the López Mateos sports complex.

In response, the manifesto calls on authorities to “stop ceding public and open land and green spaces to the detriment of society.”

The project “doesn’t meet [the requirements of] state environmental planning and urban sustainability,” it argues.

According to the project’s environmental impact assessment (EA), the areas affected by the work have no environmental value but opponents argue that the EA isn’t comprehensive and doesn’t consider the public services and environmental benefits that Guadalajara residents would lose.

The EA “doesn’t make an assessment about the impact of the works on the aquifers . . .” the manifesto says, citing one shortcoming it identified.

Green areas are “of great importance for human well-being, they provide a range of environmental services such as oxygen generation and particle capture — reducing the levels of contaminants in the air, they regulate the climate, avoiding so-called urban heat islands, they cushion noise levels, capture water and reduce flooding and the erosion of soil,” it continues.

In addition, the statement says that native animals are threatened by the loss of green spaces because together they form wildlife corridors.

The quality of life of Guadalajara residents would also be reduced because green spaces such as parks not only beautify the city but play an important role in people’s social lives.

In conclusion, the manifesto says “we seek a change of course in the water regulation, management and policy of Mexico that encourages a national dialogue with the participation of indigenous persons, universities and social organizations . . . .”

Source: Milenio (sp)

Reader forum