Biodiversity and livestock activity practices in Mexico City

The people who live in the nation's capital and the surrounding metropolitan area depend on environmentally sustainable practices.

Biodiversity and livestock activity practices in Mexico City
Raising livestock in Mexico City necessitates adopting methods that don't damage the environment. Photo by Stijn te Strake / Unsplash

Population pressure in Mexico City (CDMX) is increasing, which is why it is of utmost importance to regulate agricultural activities in the metropolis to take care of its conservation land and protected natural areas, as they provide the population with important ecosystem services, according to Juan Carlos Escobedo Alcántara and Elein Hernández Trujillo, researchers at UNAM's Cuautitlán School of Higher Education (FES).

Escobedo Alcántara, who is also an advisor to the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), pointed out that the Mexican capital is home to nearly nine million people, while in the Metropolitan Zone of the Valley of Mexico there are approximately 27 million, which is why livestock farming is an important sector for producing food for this demographic area.

Impact on biodiversity is essential

According to the Strategy for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Mexico City's Biodiversity, 12 percent of Mexico City's territory is highly biodiverse. "Unfortunately, due to the great pressure of land use change derived from productive activities and the demographic explosion, many of the species that live there have been put at risk".

Livestock farming has an impact on sustainability. A problematic cycle was created in the majority of small producers; many people dedicated to this work are technically and educationally backward, which contributes to the poor management of their livestock in productive terms, and excessive use of natural resources.

This is not economically profitable because it has a high production cost and low profitability, and, competitively, the monetary impact on the populations whose livelihoods depend on this activity is reduced.

It also influences natural resources in terms of deforestation, which tends to fragment ecosystems, he continued during his participation in the Food Sustainability Seminar. Block 3, The forests of Mexico City and their importance in climate balance and biodiversity conservation.

Given this, he added, the proposal is to work with an integral, holistic, and landscape vision, "not to create sustainable islands in those areas we seek to impact. We work through field schools, that is, in production units (stables or corrals, for example); we do not make a diagnosis from a technical-productive perspective, but with a social approach, and the use of tools related to the analysis of vulnerability to climate change.

In the session, Sustainable use of livestock and reintroduction of native species to the ecosystem, the university academic highlighted:

Livestock farming with good practices contributes to climate change mitigation. "There is no time to think; if we do not act. Resources will be depleted in Mexico City, but also in the Metropolitan Zone of the Valley of Mexico we would be losing many of the ecosystem services and with that, we would have many problems in the future".

Elein Hernández explained that the main regions of activity in the CDMX are Tlalpan (livestock), Xochimilco (agriculture and livestock), and Milpa Alta (agriculture). The contribution of each of these demarcations -compared to the rest of the country- is minor, but it is significant for the communities of this city.

Livestock production increased because the population also grew and more animals are required to feed it, which causes changes in the environment.

In the capital's production systems, sustainability is necessary, as well as health: "that vital relationship between human, environmental and animal health. That is, any change in the physical conditions of a human being will be reflected in the environment and animals. For example, an average of 70 percent of the diseases that afflict humans may have an animal origin".

It is also about the welfare of the animals because if they are well, so are the people who interact with them. We are more connected than we sometimes want to accept.

It is essential to determine what is being done at the entity, municipal, or community level, explore each of the situations, look for the label of whether or not it is sustainable and determine what is being done in those regions, what type of production should survive or how to find harmony and future synergy to produce food and establish the economic and social bases for those regions.

It is a complex issue, it cannot be summarized and provided solutions in a few minutes, multidisciplinary participation is required, taking into account that when we talk about agronomy it is necessary to consider what the region is, what was there before; that is, to carry out studies to determine if endemic species can continue or if new ones are being reintroduced. "It remains for us to continue working on precise projects to find the common goal."