The Lacandon forest, the land of the Mayans, is fast disappearing. Only about one third of the area is still intact. The forests may last only for 15 years if crop burning, forest fires, insufficient environmental protection and invasion by displaced indigenous people continues. In 1998, forest fires destroyed around 25,000 hectares (ha) of land. In the last 14 years, 41 per cent of the forest has been destroyed and the area is rapidly being converted into pastures and cultivable land.
The government had reserved 600,000 ha of the land for the Mayas, the ancient tribe of Mexico. The protected area, called the Montes Azules (Blue Woodlands), is the home of 28 per cent of Mexico's mammals, 32 per cent birds, 14.4 per cent fishes and 12 per cent of reptiles. The pressure on the protected area is gradually increasing due to migration of communities fleeing from poverty and violence between rebels and the government. At present, Montes Azules is home to 26 communities making up around 700 families.
These groups have destroyed around 600 ha of the protected area but believe that the land is theirs as they work on them. The jungle provides the communities with all their requirements including fruits and vegetables. <>
To relocate the settlers, the government has decided to provide each family with up to 5 ha of land, a prefabricated house and technical help on crop cultivation. Majority of the settlers have not accepted the plan as they feel that the houses are not strong enough and land is not fertile or sufficient.
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