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Parts of Mexico Gripped by Worst Drought in 70 Years

Parts of Mexico Experiencing Worst Drought in 70 Years

Latin American Herald-Tribune, July 9, 2011

MEXICO CITY – About 40 percent of Mexico’s territory has been experiencing the worst drought in seven decades, President Felipe Calderon said.

Climate change has caused extreme weather events in Mexico in the past three years, ranging from torrential rains to severe droughts, Calderon said during an event held in connection with the celebration earlier this week of World Environment Day.

Mexico experienced its second worst drought in 60 years in 2009, while 2010 was the rainiest year on record and this year has seen parts of the country suffer from the worst drought in 70 years, the president said.

There are areas in Mexico where it has not rained since September, causing wildfires in states like Coahuila, where 193,000 hectares (476,543 acres) burned between March and April.

About 13 percent of Mexico’s territory, or nearly 25.5 million hectares (some 63 million acres), have been turned into protected areas, Calderon said.

Mexico is making progress in protecting its forests, with the area lost annually dropping from 355,000 hectares (876,543 acres) between 1990 and 2000 to 155,000 hectares (382,716 acres) annually between 2005 and 2010, the president said.

“I expect there will come a day when we not only protect and prevent the loss of even one hectare of forest, but we begin to increase the forested surface of the country once again, when we reach the rate of zero deforestation,” Calderon said.

Forest fires and loss of trees are among the leading sources of CO2 emissions, which are blamed for global warming, the president said.

The government has set a goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 51 million tons by 2012 and mitigating 25.7 million tons by the same year, Calderon said.