Illegal Deforestation in Mexico to Plant Avocado Trees

    Rising avocado prices leading to deforestation by Mexican farmers

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    Due to the avocado’s growing popularity in The United States and around the world as a healthy superfood, Mexican farmers have found that it’s a much more profitable industry to get into. The high demand for avocados has led to an increase in price they can be sold for and as a result farmers in Mexico are clearing huge plots of land to plant avocado trees.

    One of the major concerns revolves around The Michoacan Mountains where much of the illegal deforestation is occuring. The woods in the mountains have acted as a winter home for rare Monarch Butterflies for a long time and the deforestation would destroy a huge portion of their habitat.

    To make matters worse avocado orchards use nearly twice the amount of water as the forests in the area, meaning that the streams running throughout the mountains would be drained. The streams are of significant importance to the animals and plants in the mountains and the results of deforestation to create orchards could be detrimental.

    Between 2001 and 2010 avocado production in the area tripled, an expansion that most likely caused the deforestation of around 1,700 acres of land. An avocado tree can take up to eight years to reach maturity and may bear around 150 avocados. Even with these numbers someone who owns an entire orchard could make up to $500,000 annually.

    Avocado prices in The United States rose from $0.88 to $1.10 in the course of about six months this past year and continue to rise as demand skyrockets.

    Another issue is that Mexican gangs want in on the profit and have started to demand that they’re given a cut. Farmers who don’t include the gangs face serious threats such as getting their entire orchard burnt down, as was the case with two men whose packing plants were destroyed last April.

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