Working on the premise that planting more trees will help improve the health of Lake Chapala’s ecosystem, the newly formed activist group Promotora del Entorno Sustentable, A.C. (ProEntorno) kicked into action Saturday, June 7 to lead a massive and extended reforestation campaign in the lakeshore region.
The non-profit organization headed by Francisco Cuevas Corona arrived early in the morning with a truckload of 25 trees that were planted at various points along the borders of the roadway linking Chapala and Mezcala and the highway running through central Ajijic. It was a symbolic gesture marking the first phase of reforestation that is set to continue in similar fashion through the first week of August.
Ecologists consider trees and woodlands to be vital to the environment as reservoirs for capturing precipitation, preventing soil erosion and flash floods, providing habitat for wildlife, propitiating clean air and mitigating climate change.
Cuevas told the Reporter that Pro-Entorno’s long-term goal is to introduce 100,000 new trees over a period of six years. The plan emphasizes planting hardy endemic species, such as ciruelo (native plum), parota (elephant ear) and other shade varieties that favor cloud formation to boost rainfall.
The project is being carried out with full support from local governments, the state’s environment ministry Semadet and the Jalisco Society of Geography and Statistics (BSGEJ).
Cuevas is a member of the lakeside clan that founded and still operates the original hot spring spa in San Juan Cosala. He is well known in Guadalajara as a financial analyst and journalist specialized in the Mexican economy.
Signs of a sinking economy in the lakeside area, tied in part to Lake Chapala’s ecological woes, spurred him to form ProEtorno as a citizen-based action group. He observes that tourism has fallen off by around 40 percent, causing a similar dip for the hotel and restaurant sector. He calculates that local property values have plummeted as much a 50 percent over the past couple of years.
The mission of ProEntorno is to foster efforts to conserve Mexico’s largest lake and achieve sustainable development in the region. Among the organization’s multiple objectives is advocacy for dredging projects to increase the depth of the lakebed at the Chapala and Jocotepec waterfronts and in the vicinity of San Nicolás de Ibarra.
In the immediate future, the group will sponsor a number of local activities aimed at raising public awareness on environmental matters and sparking greater interest and citizen participation in protecting the ecosystem from further degradation.
A Chapala-Mezcala bicycle excursion, followed by a concert at the Chapala Malecón is on the agenda for August 16. A series of conferences organized by the BSGEJ is scheduled for August 18 through 30 at the Centro Cultural González Gallo. An agricultural fair, focused on local products and organic farming is being planned for November.
For further information consult the group’s Facebook page and website www.proentornosustentable.com.