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Junio 2016

Corruption and Biodiversity Loss

Alfredo Ramos Vázquez

Corruption in México has caused terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem degradation, which decreases biodiversity. There are some examples, in relation to this aspect, involving rainforest deforestation from the seventies to the eighties. But also, in our days, there are many mining companies that extract minerals in natural protected areas.

To understand this situation, it is necessary to review our recent history to see how corruption has caused environmental degradation. During the seventies, government that belonged to the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) created a Government Agency whose principal activity was to transform forests into agricultural land, and which was responsible of the destruction of a large extension of forest. For example, 42,300 hectares of forest were destroyed by this agency, and those areas were offered to new colonizers who used this land in agriculture. Besides, some corrupt politicians made dirty business with the illegal extracted wood that came from that deforestation. Also, they obtained areas to create their own ranches. This kind of practices destroyed almost all of the rainforest in Tabasco State, and reduced a considerable extension in Veracruz State. In others states as Chiapas y Campeche, the impact was minimum (Toledo, et al., 1985).

Forests are affected by corruption in many places all over the world; for example, in tropical countries illegal logging represents from 50 to 90% of the total amount of wood that exist, in their own markets. This represents from 10 to 30% of the global wood market, which signifies an estimated value between 30 to 100 billion dollars annually (Nellemann et al., 2014). Besides, the illegal trade in wild life has been estimated to represent 7 to 23 billion dollars annually, and illegal fisheries represent from 11 to 30 billion dollars (Nellemann et al., 2014).

Besides, corruption in our country has allowed some factories to continue polluting the air, water and soils in many places in Mexico. The latest case happened in Sonora State, with a company known as Buenavista del Cobre, which belongs to Grupo Mexico. This mining company spilled 40,000 cubic meters of copper sulfate, which was leached into the Rio Sonora (Sonora River), and affecting over 5,700 hectares and 24,000 inhabitants. This situation was part of the corruption system, because according to Congressmen reports, this mining company violated different environmental laws, including some environmental agreements with North America (Cámara de Diputados, 2014).

Corruption in Mexico has also produced poverty which in some cases is related with deforestation, not only because some poor people from rural areas cut trees, though however this situation has almost never happened with native indigenous population, even if they live in marginal conditions (Deininger y Minten, 2002; López, 2012). However, we cannot blame poor people for this situation, considering that they do not have the opportunity of development.

So, we can assure that corruption has caused environmental degradation and losing species. For that reason, we need to take different actions to solve these problems and protect them. So, we need to work together, using our creativity to make our own organizations make the proposals, which have to be listened and implemented by Governments. Besides, we cannot continue with that corruption that puts in danger our biodiversity.

At the end, we are thousands of persons from all over the world aware of how important biodiversity is, and that we need to protect without any excuses. This means we need to join together in a single force to put pressure on those Institutions and Governments that allow biodiversity destruction. They have to be transformed in the right way.


Cámara de Diputados. (2014). Primer Informe de Trabajo de la Comisión Especial para dar Seguimiento a la Problemática Generada por el Derrame de Diversas Sustancias Contaminantes a los Ríos Sonora y Bacanuchi. Gaceta Parlamentaria 4113-V. (http://gaceta.diputados.gob.mx/PDF/62/2014/sep/20140917-V.pdf)

Deininger, K. y Minten, B. (2002). Determinants of Deforestation and the Economics of Protección: an application to Mexico. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 84(4): 943-960. (https://library.conservation.org/Published%20Documents/2002/deininger%202000%20defor%20and%20economics%20of%20protection.pdf)

Laminers, G. (2014). Río Sonora La historia detrás del derrame. Crónica Ambiental 05. (http://www.cronicaambiental.com.mx/ediciones/05/rio-sonora.pdf)

López, A. (2012). Deforestación en México: Un análisis preliminar. CIDE. División de Economía, numero 527. (http://www.ccmss.org.mx/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Deforestacion_en_Mexico_un_analisis_preliminar.pdf)

Nellemann, C., Henriksen, R., Raxter, P., Ash, N., Mrema, E. (2014). The Environmental Crime Crisis – Threats to Sustainable Development from Illegal Exploitation and Trade in Wildlife and Forest Resources. United Nation Environmental Program. (http://www.unep.org/unea1/docs/RRAcrimecrisis.pdf)

Toledo, V., Carabias, J., Mapes, C. y Toledo, C. (1985). Ecología y autosuficiencia alimentaria. Siglo XXI, México.

Vázquez-Yanez, C. y Orozco, A. (1989). La destrucción de la naturaleza. Fondo de Cultura Económica. México.

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