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Chichen Itza Gets Greener

MEXICO CITY.- With the planting of 3,000 endemic trees, the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) concluded reforestation of vulnerable areas at Chichen Itza Archaeological Zone, in Yucatan, with the aim of counteracting deforestation at the Maya site, caused by natural events such as draught. The forestation program was developed with the support of the National Defense Ministry (SEDENA), which donated 4,000 endemic trees such as mahogany, cedar, flamboyant and pich, being the last specie characteristic of the region.

Archaeologist Ricardo Nafate Lopez, responsible of the project, informed that this labor is part of the minor maintenance program of the site. “The most endangered zones have been reforested”. From the total of donated trees, 3,000 were planted, keeping the rest to be planted in 2010. Seed was sowed as well to recover a larger number of trees. Among the green areas repopulated outstands the path that conducts from the Observatory to the Initial Series Conjunct, as well as the route that leads from the main access to the Camp, the Main Esplanade and the Great Leveling, where 300 trees were planted, attended by a reliable irrigation system. These areas are the most visited, so grass is to be rehabilitated as well.

Nafate Lopez mentioned that factors that affect green areas are strong winds produced by hurricanes, which provoke fractures and even detachment of specimens of more than 10 meters height, “so regional flora looses shadows important for their development”. He also mentioned there is tree loss during electric storms, “lightning hits trees 4 or 5 times each month”. Draught is other reason that produces specimens’ death, because global warming has altered periodicity of rains, and the dry season is to present longer and harder. The INAH archaeologist declared that within the 47 hectares of the Chichen Itza Polygonal Protection Area, heavy dryness has been detected, and studies have been conducted regarding viability of planting new trees, because in the reforestation process it is necessary to maintain good shadow and irrigation conditions.

“Before new specimens’ planting, the area and space conditions are studied, and the care needed by each species is planned, so trees obtain necessary elements for their growth; we count on with a register by sowing zone and group”, mentioned Nafate Lopez. Besides reforesting Chichen Itza Archaeological Zone, this work looks forward to recover species by natural flowering. Seed is collected from some trees, stored and sowed in different areas.

With this system it has been achieved to sow a great amount of palma de guano (silver palm or Coccothrinax), historical and millenary bush used by Maya people to manufacture roofs and handcrafts. Besides palmas de guano, commented Ricardo Nafate, the specie ciricote or k´oopte in Maya (Cordia dodecandra) is being recovered. Maya people from Yucatan use, to present, its hard and resistant wood, as well as its edible flowers and fruits. An area has been improvised to conserve seeds, but on the medium term, the objective is to develop a greenhouse with irrigation, lighting and temperature conditions to reproduce trees.

The INAH archaeologist concluded that reforestation was carried out by 32 persons, among them, gardeners, custodians and general workers.

National Institute of Anthropology and History | Chichen Itza Archaeological Zone | Ricardo Nafate Lopez |

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