The change in land use, urbanization and invasions endanger mountain wetlands in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, warns environmentalist Leon Enrique Avila Romero today.
"Currently, they are being refilled, destroyed, disturbed and even constructions have been made," the Mexican Ávila Romero, a member of the Network for the Care of Life and Land of the Jovel Valley, in the Highlands of Chiapas, told Efe.
Two types of mountain wetlands are located near San Cristóbal de Las Casas, La Kisst and María Eugenia, declared both natural protected areas in 2008 and in 2012 incorporated into the RAMSAR convention, relating to wetlands of international importance, especially as habitat acuatic birds.
The mountain wetlands are bodies of water less than six meters deep that provide services such as providing clean and pure water and preventing floods and snakes, this in San Cristobal de las Casas, the main town in the area of Los Altos.
Mountain wetlands, along with mangroves on the coast, are considered regulators of climate and water cycles.
Although they have two points of agreement of the Mexican Senate that demand the protection of said protected natural area, the reality is that this jewel of nature has been forgotten.
It is estimated that at present some 20 hectares of wetlands in this Mexican entity have been filled, paved or built, which has resulted in a considerable deterioration for the environment.
This threatens several species, some of them autochthonous, that only live in this type of ecosystem, such as the Popoyote fish or scaly fish of San Cristóbal (Profundulus hildebrandi), the last one of great ecological importance and cataloged in danger of extinction.
In addition, these wetlands are the main source of drinking water in San Cristobal de Las Casas, which has a population of 158,027 inhabitants.
"This is where the greatest amount of water consumed by the inhabitants of the city comes from, another important function is to counteract natural disasters such as snakes, waterspouts," said Ávila Romero.
For several years a group of citizens of the region undertook a fight to denounce all the invasions that cause damage to these natural spaces which has led to criminal complaints against the activists themselves.
"Eight years ago this was a desert and we managed to reforest, so we called to defend this space for granddaughters and grandchildren," said Dámaso Villanueva, an activist and social advocate in San Cristóbal de Las Casas.
Jesus Carmona de la Torre, head of institutional laboratories of the South Border College, said that if the wetlands are lost, especially those of San Cristobal de las Casas, there will be water shortages, endemic species will be lost and the risk of flooding will increase.
The municipality has signaled this deterioration and they have committed to restore the damage starting with the closure and protection of the space to prevent it from being built in nearby areas, said Jerónimo Toledo Toledo Villalobos, municipal president of San Cristóbal de Las Casas.
According to the National Inventory of Wetlands (INH) prepared by the Mexican Government, Mexico had 6,331 wetlands in 2017.
Of which, due to their relevance and characteristics, 142 are considered within the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.