Avocado Production Is Causing More Deforestation in Mexico Than We Thought

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The bad news for avocado lovers is coming faster than a burrito chain employee can remind you guacamole costs extra. Last month came word that a stranglehold on imports was leading to the highest avocado prices in decades. Now this week, the Associated Press is giving us all a guac-related guilty trip with a report that avocado farming is causing more deforestation in Mexico than previous thought. The only way 2016 could end any worse is if President-elect Trump reveals that his plans for the forthcoming wall don’t include any avocado-sized holes.

The newly released stats on the impact of avocados on deforestation arrived Monday courtesy of Talia Coria, a delegate from the attorney general's office for environmental protection in the Mexican state of Michoacan. According to her numbers, about 30 to 40 percent of the 50,000 acres converted from forest land to agricultural land in her territory every year are specifically used to grow avocados. Michoacan is the world’s largest avocado producing region, accounting for around eight out of every ten avocados exported around the globe.

Related: Avocados Could Have Easily Gone Extinct

That estimate of 15,000 to 20,000 acres per year is far higher than recent statistics from Mexico’s National Institute for Forestry, Farming and Fisheries Research which pegged the deforestation damage from growing avocados at a mere 1,700 acres per year from 2000 to 2010. Additionally, since the Mexican government hasn’t issued new permits for turning forest land into farming land in years, much of that increased production is happening on illegal soil.

The silver lining to these unfortunate environmental findings is that it’s causing officials in the area to take immediate action. “We are sitting down now with all the parties involved to find a way to continue this industry of avocado growing, which provides a lot of jobs and income for the state, in harmony with the conservation of our natural resources,” Coria was quoted as saying. “We are going to search for a way … to ensure that all avocados exported are legal, and that the environment has not been affected by their production… The avocado growers appear to be convinced that we have to find options for conserving the environment.”

So let’s think of this as good news for 2017 – hopefully the year we start seeing more environmentally-friendly avocados.

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