Kids Block a $900 Million Development in Mexican Resort Town

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A group of 113 children from Cancún, Mexico have stepped into the courtroom to stop the destruction of a large area of mangrove forests. On November 4th, a judge suspended the project to remove 69-hectares in one of the hottest resort towns in Mexico. The catch…the children have to pay a bond of $1.2 million, to-date expenses, to offset the developers’ losses.

For two decades, environmentalists have been battling Mexico’s tourism development agency to stop the project as bulldozers leveled mangrove trees and displaced local wildlife to make room for new homes and shops for tourists.

“If we cut everything down then we’re going to die,” Ana, a four-year-old plaintiff, told Quartz. “Trees help us breathe.” Previous generations in Mexico have had little hope of changing the current trend, but this generation is realizing that they must speak out or they will have nothing left.

Mexico has a rich coverage of mangroves along its coastline, an important ecosystem for local wildlife and for limiting destruction from seasonal hurricanes. Unfortunately, over the past three decades, Mexico has lost about 10% of its mangrove forests to development for tourism. “All this development has an immense human and ecological effect which, combined with climate change, will result in a human and natural tragedy,” warns Roberto Iglesias-Prieto, a marine eco-physicist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Puerto Morelos.

Massive development is taking place all along the coast south of Cancún with mangroves being lost at a rate of 4% a year in the state of Quintana Roo. This is causing massive erosion, so much so, Cancún has spent $20 million last year to ship in sand for their beaches. That isn’t the only issue they are facing. The area from Yucatan peninsula to Honduras has experienced massive pollution, mangrove destruction and degrading water quality due to pig farms, golf courses, septic tanks and hotels dumping grey water into the area.  According to The Guardian, all these new human developments are taking a huge toll on the coral reef and local ecosystem.

“…Nature here is for sale, and nothing is being done to protect the sand, the sea and the forests.” says Paul Sanchez Navarro, director of the Centro Ecológico Akumal.