For Immediate Release, June 9, 2022

Contact:

Alex Olivera, Center for Biological Diversity, +52 612104-0604, aolivera@biologicaldiversity.org
Dana Olguín, Greenpeace Mexico, +52 771 183-8505, dana.olguin@greenpeace.org

Conservationists Urge Halt to Mexico’s Maya Train Project, Call For Sanctions

Project Violates Local, National Regulations, Forest Clearing Already Occurred

MEXICO CITY— Conservation groups filed comments today with Semarnat, Mexico’s environmental ministry, identifying a large number of omissions and inaccuracies in a government assessment of the environmental impacts of the section five south of the Maya train project.

The Maya train aims to connect tourist sites across the Yucatán Peninsula. The controversial project is led by the Fondo Nacional de Fomento al Turismo, Mexico’s tourism agency, which filed the flawed environmental impact statement.

“Mexican officials failed to comprehensively consider the Maya train’s environmental harms, but we know it’s a huge threat to jaguars and other wildlife,” said Alejandro Olivera, Mexico representative at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The government’s analysis failed to meaningfully address risks ranging from bulldozing away vegetation to operating the train itself. Along this section’s 67 kilometers, there will be only two wildlife passages for jaguars and ocelots, and 15 kilometers of track won’t have any wildlife passages at all. If this goes forward, it’ll be a disaster for some of Mexico’s rarest animals.”

During the public comment process, the groups pointed out that the assessment was issued outside the time allowed by law — which should trigger immediate cancellation. In addition, forest clearing for the project started without authorization, violating a Mexican environmental law that requires an environmental impact statement to be approved before forest clearing or any construction activity.

The assessment also fails to comply with the General Law on Sustainable Forestry Development, which requires a supporting technical study for any change in land use.

On May 18, under intense pressure from conservation groups concerned about the forest clearing, the government finally issued an environmental statement for the Maya train section five south.

The project violates local regulations because, among other issues, the Cancun-Tulum Corridor’s ecological planning program prohibits dredging, filling, excavations, expansion of cenotes and the removal of vegetation. The train line is designed to pass through at least three cenotes and a region of caves according to the National Center for Disaster Prevention.

The environmental impact statement contains studies on soil mechanics, hydrology and soil permeability and considers fauna passages. However, it does not address the feasibility of the project. In addition, the statement does not present results on how the project and the environment in which it is intended to be built could affected.

The statement’s study of soil mechanics only analyzed the risk the project itself and not to wildlife. Worse, this analysis assesses a previous section of the train’s construction, so the information presented is wrong and has nothing to do with the section five south of the Maya train.

Because of these failures and legal violations, the conservation groups have requested sanctions against the Fondo Nacional de Fomento al Turismo.

“Karstic systems are of particular importance because they are responsible for a large part of the groundwater recharge in the Mayan region,” said Viridiana Lázaro, agriculture and climate change specialist at Greenpeace Mexico. “They provide important environmental services such as carbon reservoirs, surface biodiversity, agricultural production and drinking water. In addition, it is a place of Mayan cultural practices with symbolic value for its inhabitants and for the country.”

“Today we filed a technical analysis within the public consultation. We urge Semarnat to deny section five south of the Mayan Train and, to PROFEPA to establish penalties and total closure of the project as it is stipulated in the law,” said Aleira Lara, campaigns director at Greenpeace Mexico. “We ask that a change of layout be evaluated and find mobility alternatives on the right of way without causing negative impacts to the environment and the communities, without violating national and international laws and regulations.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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