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Burned forest land in Puerto Morelos. Burned forest land in Puerto Morelos.

Puerto Morelos residents worry that burning is precursor to development

One resident got up at four in the morning and the whole area was full of smoke

Residents of Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, have spoken out against the burning of forest land, which they believe is a precursor to a new real estate development.

Complaints about the fires on social media caught the attention of Sebastián Torres Perdigón, a researcher in the Faculty of Science at the National Autonomous University.

After traveling to Puerto Morelos to investigate, he told the newspaper Reforma that jungle located near the El Faro residential estate is being set on fire at night.

Firefighters arrive to battle the blazes but fires are set again the very next night, Torres said.

“For two weeks, residents have been complaining that smoke is coming out of the jungle . . . In that area, they’re building new real estate developments in the El Faro, Quinta Mareta and La Palma residential estates,” he said.

“The fires start at about eight at night and continue until two or three in the morning, which is when the smoke begins to be noticed in the residential areas,” Torres added.

He said that trees extending across approximately three kilometers of land have been cleared, a process that residents fear is designed to bring about a land-use change to permit further residential development.

The presence of boundary markers was further evidence, Perdigón said.

During a June 29 visit to the site, the researcher said he noticed that two species of protected trees – the chechem or black poisonwood and zapote or Mexican apple – have also been cut down.

Juan Pedro García Trujillo, a resident of the El Faro estate, told Reforma that the fires have very nearly encroached on his home.

“My house is right next to the jungle, it’s only separated by a wire fence so for us it’s very evident. At night, you notice the smell of smoke. One night I got up at four in the morning and the whole place was full of smoke. We went outside and the jungle was on fire,” he said.

“The next day we walked around the site and saw several hectares had already been cleared. There is a federal road [next to the jungle] where high-voltage electricity lines run and some parts [of the lines] were still burning.”

Karen Daniela Hernández said the constant fires are not only clearing trees but also causing the displacement of fauna.

She and other Puerto Morelos residents have called on the National Forestry Commission and the Secretariat of Agrarian and Urban Planning to take action to stop the fires and to implement an orderly urban expansion strategy.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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