El Nino, farming threaten biosphere reserve in Mexico

10:28, February 16, 2010      

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Dry weather from the El Nino phenomenon are causing fire hazards to a forest in east Mexico that is recognized by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve under the Man and the Biosphere Program, officials said Monday.

The situation at Pantanos de Centla in the east state of Tabasco is similar to that seen in 2003, when Tabasco saw 77 fires, said Jose Calix Lopez, head of the National Forestry Commission ( Conafor) 's branch in Tabasco.

Residents often start fires in order to hunt turtles, an illegal practice spurred by prices of up to 300 pesos (about 23 U. S. dollars) per turtle on the black market. In addition, farmers have grown more careless about burning stubble, no longer setting up firewalls to prevent blazes spreading beyond their property, Lopez said.

Source: Xinhua
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