A mining project linked to the expansion of the Mexican Gulf port of Veracruz threatens North America’s largest jungle preserve, which would be the source of 2 million cubic meters of basalt rock.
Grassroots organizations and scientists, especially those from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM, are warning that the project will harm the Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve, which is already plagued by poachers and traffickers of exotic wildlife.
The mining project would be developed in Balzapote, a village outside San Andres Tuxtla, one of eight cities located in the reserve, which was created in 1998 and sprawls over more than 155,000 hectares (382,716 acres).
Residents and grassroots organizations are gathering signatures for an online petition to stop the project, which requires the dynamiting of a mountainous area that is home to a large number of animal and plant species.
Some residents, however, said on condition of anonymity that they supported the project because it would provide an economic boost to the area and were willing to sell land for basalt mining.
The project threatens 565 species of birds, 140 species of mammals, 117 species of reptiles and about 100 species of butterflies that call the area home, Colectivo la Roca representative Lili Rosas told Efe.