The Jalisco state government will invest 785 million pesos (US $40 million) in the Sierra of Tapalpa this year in a bid to develop the region while protecting its natural resources.
At an event to inaugurate the development plan, Governor Enrique Alfaro said that unregulated planting of crops like avocados has led to environmental degradation in the region.
“We can’t have a development plan based on preying on the natural resources of this region of Jalisco,” he said. “We’ve seen the consequences of that in the past few days, and I think we need to be conscious of the fact that this new model of growth isn’t just based on something that occurred to the governor, but on the feelings of the people.”
According to the state, illegal logging and avocado and berry production have caused damage to over 8,000 hectares of protected areas in the Sierra of Tapalpa over the past eight years.
Alfaro said the development plan will seek to regulate and promote the production of crops like avocados, figs, bell peppers and berries.
“We want plants like avocados, peppers and figs to represent an opportunity for Jalisco, an important part of our economy,” he said. “But let me be clear, it can’t go on like this: it’s not going to be unregulated anymore, we’re not going to allow planting in forested areas. Those days are over.”
As part of the plan, mayors of the four municipalities in the Sierra of Tapalpa micro-region — Chiquilistlán, Atemajac de Brisuela, Tapalpa and San Gabriel — are working together to establish common land-use regulations to govern which areas can be used for cultivation.
The development plan will begin with repair work in the municipality of San Gabriel, which was the scene of major flooding earlier this week. Governor Alfaro, among others, blamed the flooding on years of illegal logging by avocado growers, which weakened river banks and allowed the Apango river to overflow.