- Estimates suggest that between 30 percent and 70 percent of all wood harvested in Mexico is illegal, amounting to between 5 and 14 million m3 of illegal supply annually.
- Illegal logging is tied with organized crime, drugs, and human trafficking as well as human rights violations.
- Violence is forcing displacement of farmers and indigenous peoples from their lands and increasing the risk of exploitation within the wood harvesting and processing industry.
- Enforcement has been weakened in recent years as a result of austerity measures, and corruption at all levels perpetuates the high rates of illegal logging and low seizure rates.
- Imports account for a significant proportion of the timber processed in Mexico.
- While Mexico sources sawnwood from some low-risk countries such as the U.S. and Canada, a sizeable amount of hardwood is imported from high-risk source countries.
- To date, despite efforts to develop a timber import regulation, Mexico still lacks effective and enforceable import controls.
- There are reports of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) protected species being illegally exported to China.
Read more by downloading the Mexico Timber Legality Risk Dashboard here.
- Every year, at least 47,770 hectares of forests and jungles are cleared to establish agricultural fields. This forest cover is equivalent to the area occupied by Cozumel, one of the largest islands in Mexico.
- Territories that were previously inhabited by forest biodiversity are now dominated by monocultures such as avocado, soybeans, cane and oil palm.
- For decades, the clearing caused by agribusiness has been advancing without obstacles in various regions of the country. The engines that encourage it are, among others, government subsidies, a growing market, ignored environmental laws and, especially, disdain for forested lands.
- When deforestation caused by oil palm was advancing in Indonesia or Malaysia, federal and state officials in Mexico did everything they could to encourage the planting of these native African palms in the surroundings of the Selva Lacandona.
- Between 2014 and 2019, at least 5,400 hectares of forests and jungles were lost due to the expansion of oil palm in Chiapas, Campeche, Tabasco and Veracruz, according to cartographic analyzes carried out by the authors of the study Oil palm cultivation in Mexico.
- At least 4,000 hectares of oil palm are found within the La Encrucijada Biosphere Reserve, a protected natural area located on the coast of Chiapas and where there has been the greatest expansion of monoculture in the last ten years.
- In the sugarcane zone of the municipality of Othón P. Blanco, the result of decades of government policies that have privileged agriculture and livestock over jungles and forests is reflected.
- Beginning in the 1970s, the federal government promoted cane cultivation in the region. There was installed the sugar mill that until today marks life in the southern zone of Quintana Roo. Although many cane fields have been established since the 1980s, this monoculture has continued to add hectares inside and outside the sugar cane zone.
- In the entire municipality of Othón P. Blanco, since 2010, 75,364 hectares were left without tree cover, which is equivalent to 109 times the area of the Chapultepec forest, located in Mexico City.
- Hopelchén is today one of the main soybean producers in the country. Occupying that place has had a very high cost for biodiversity. In 20 years, this municipality in the state of Campeche lost at least 153,809 hectares of tree cover, an area that represents three times the territory of the island of Cozumel.
- The expansion of soybeans in that region has gone hand in hand with processes of leasing and privatization of lands that were previously ejido under collective ownership, and government subsidies that benefit, above all, large producers.
- In the last seven years, the environmental authorities have not authorized any change in the use of forest land in Hopelchén, yet clearings continue and have intensified in recent years, according to satellite images.
- In Jalisco, avocado orchards spread out and monopolize the landscape: in 2010 there were about 8,400 hectares of this monoculture, by 2021 that surface tripled.
- Satellite images show what is lost with the expansion of the Persea americana monoculture: since 2019 at least 5,160 hectares ceased to be forests to become avocado orchards.
- The loss of forest cover could continue unstoppable, especially after, in July 2022, the United States government authorized the commercialization of avocados harvested in Jalisco.
The link between drug and animal trafficking in Mexico is becoming closer every day. Poachers and loggers are forced to work for the Sinaloa cartel or the Jalisco New Generation cartel (CJNG), who pay them in illegal drugs such as methamphetamine and fentanyl. China’s insatiable thirst for species such as totoaba, sea cucumber and abalone has turned animal trafficking into a lucrative business, and one Mexico’s organized crime groups want to control. Mexican cartels are now delivering these species to Chinese traders, who in return provide the chemical precursors needed to make illegal drugs.
This task has been made easier by the Mexican government’s hands-off approach to the cartels and the fact the country’s environmental authorities are desperately underfunded.
In the state of Michoacán, Mexico, the fight to protect a natural wonder is colliding with a booming avocado trade and a spiralling war for control being waged by the country’s drug cartels.
An Indigenous rights activist who campaigned against illegal logging has been killed in northern Mexico, prosecutors say, five years after his activist brother also was slain.
Wildlife trafficking from Mexico to China receives little attention, but it is growing and threatens biodiversity. Moreover, while the connections between wildlife trafficking and drug cartels are sometimes exaggerated, in Mexico, wildlife trafficking, drug trafficking, and money laundering have become intertwined. Attracted by China’s enormous appetite for wildlife products and in contact with Chinese traders supplying precursor chemicals for the production of illegal fentanyl and methamphetamine, Mexican drug cartels are increasingly muscling their way into the country’s legal and illegal wildlife trade.
A community in rural Mexico has for the past 15 years led the conservation of the forest on its communally managed land, or ejido, in a region wracked by illegal logging.
The Nueva Vaquería forestry program near Pico de Orizaba National Park has seen the community reforest nearly 500 hectares (more than 1,200 acres), in stark contrast to the deforestation unfolding inside the park and neighboring communities.
In the fir forests of Mexico, one of the world’s most dangerous countries for environmentalists, the legacy of butterfly defender Homero Gomez lives on two years after his suspected murder.
Illegal logging destroys biodiversity and the habitat of fauna and flora; It causes the contamination of water sources, erosion, landslides and climate change, affirmed the Governor of Campeche Layda Sansores with community and ejido commissioners.
There the reality that the towns of Campeche live in was reaffirmed, the state executive made a call not to allow our children’s heritage to be destroyed. “Let’s raise awareness that this is a crime!” She said.
Regular citizens have taken the fight against illegal logging into their own hands in the pine-covered mountains of western Mexico, where loggers clear entire hillsides for avocado plantations that drain local water supplies and draw drug cartels hungry for extortion money.
Criminal groups across western Mexico have increased their control of illegal logging by threatening landowners, government officials and even entire communities to ensure near-total impunity.
According to a new study by the University of Guadalajara (UDG), illegal logging is one of the fastest-growing criminal economies in Mexico, with 70 percent of wood cut down between 2017 and 2019 lacking the proper permits. In 2019, the amount of forest destroyed was equivalent to an area twice the size of Mexico City. In 2020, Mexico lost 127,770 hectares of forest, a 12 percent increase on the previous year.
A national park inside Mexico City is an illegal logging hotspot for wood buyers from all over the country.
The national park, called Cumbres del Ajusco, sits on the southern edge of the city, where cartels oversee the logging operations with local lumberjacks.
Law enforcement agencies have struggled to root out the illegal logging operations due to a lack of personnel and questionable enforcement strategies
More than 300,000 square kilometers of forested land – about 15% of Mexico’s territory – have been depleted due to illegal logging carried out by criminal groups, according to the environmental protection agency Profepa.
In a document cited by the newspaper El Universal, Profepa said there are 122 areas of forested land where severe deforestation has occurred due to “the high incidence of illegal logging related to organized crime groups.”