Since 2015, increased rates of deforestation have been reported in Oaxaca, rates generally attributed to 1) Mining 2) Agriculture 3) Livestock 4) Forest fires 5) Plagues and 6) Illegal logging.
Oaxaca is covered with dense forests and has some of the highest biodiversity levels of any state in Mexico. Some local communities have begun to develop sustainable forestry practices around Oaxaca. Supporting improved efforts to develop these practices with local communities is where Del Maguey is focusing its energy.
Mezcal producing regions are not always located in agave growing regions, which are not always located in timber growing regions. Nonetheless, thanks to mezcal’s global success, these regions are inextricably linked together. As a result, it is important for local and regional communities, businesses and governments to work together in managing natural resources in Oaxaca.
Following sweeping agrarian land reforms in the Mexican Revolution, Mongabay, an Environmental News Organization, reports that presently:
“Seventy-eight percent of Oaxaca is held under communal land tenure, whose communities have the legal right to decide land uses within their community. However, this right is limited as the federal government holds the mineral rights to the land and the right to regulate timber extraction.”
This unique condition in Mexico and Oaxaca makes it imperative to work at the local level on a community by community basis.
Del Maguey Reforestation
Del Maguey counts as part of its sustainability team in Mexico, Elvia Del Refugio Vasquez, a forestry professor and apiarist and Jose Mendoza Martinez, a Naturalist who manages Del Maguey’s nursery program along with Elvia. Elvia and Jose’s passion for environmental conservation reflects Del Maguey’s values and interests.
In September 2019, in collaboration with Del Maguey Maestro Mezcalero Luis Carlos Jr, Sustainability Director Gabe Bonfanti, Jose, Elvia, and three of Elvia’s forestry program students planted 500+ trees on land near the mezcal producing village of Santa Catarina Minas. They planted tree species that palenqueros/mezcaleros employ in their roasts due to their unique reproduction methods and/or growth patterns. These are huamuchil, guaje, and encino. The timing coincided with the onset of a late rainy season, and nearly all of the trees have survived.
Del Maguey’s goal is to plant thousands of trees, either directly or in collaboration with other like minded communities, businesses or programs.
In the pilot program DM organized and financed this effort in support of its sapling nursery, and the trees’ transplantation to deforested grazing land.
Our plan is to continue to support similar efforts across Oaxaca’s diverse landscapes; working with local communities to identify and plant the right type of saplings in deforested areas.
This plan will also include working with the Forestry University in Oaxaca, CEFCOR, el Centro de Educación y Capacitación Forestal to provide sapling grants, that we can transplant to bare zones.
Additionally this program will be open to our many friends in the bartender community around the world to participate and volunteer in planting trees with us and the local communities.
Volunteering is a major aspect of successful planting missions!
We are excited to continue reporting each year about new reforestation projects.