Oaxaca, Mexico and the Arbol del Tule

From CLEMENTS@ACFcluster.NYU.EDUSat Nov  4 13:36:23 1995
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 1995 16:36:46 -0400 (EDT)
To:  jj68@is2.nyu.edu 
Subject: the Tule Tree near Oaxaca

From:	IN%"jxv1@cornell.edu" 12-OCT-1995 12:53:06.85
To:	IN%"elan@csf.colorado.edu"  "ENVIRONMENT IN LATIN AMERICA NETWORK"
Subj:	Oaxaca (Mexico) and the Arbol del Tule

Salud Elaneros:

The following is a message that a group of citizens of the City of Oaxaca,
Mexico, are sending prior to the Trilateral NAFTA meeting on Sustainable
Development that will take place in Oaxaca City 12 and 13 October, 1995.
This document will be read in this international Forum.

Further information for interested persons please send correspondence to

Ing. Jorge Augusto Velasco
Comite Mi Amigo el Arbol
Tinoco y Palacios 411
Ciudad de Oaxaca, Oaxaca  068000

Please, distribute among interested parties. Thank you.



Near the City of Oaxaca, in the town of Santa Maria del Tule, there are 8
great ahuehuetes (Taxodium mucronatum). One of these trees, known as El
Arbol del Tule, is worlwide admired for its longevity and huge dimensions:
it is more than 2000 years old and has a circumference of about 54 meters. 

The Tule tree is a unique natural monument and the area in which it lives is
also of great natural value. Since the 1940's this area has changed
considerably. Lack of subterranean water and urbanization, among other
factors, are seriously compromising the future of these monumental trees. In
order to address this situation the organization Mi Amigo el Arbol was
formed in 1994.

The diagnosis

The organization, with support from governmental and scientific agencies,
obtained a preliminary scientific diagnosis of the Tule Tree. This diagnosis
shows that the tree is, at present,  capable of supporting a whole range of
plants and animals including several pathogens that live on it. However, the
diagnosis also shows that radical changes in the enviroment, particularly
further reduction of the water tables or reduction of natural surrounding
habitat might threaten its existence. At present during the dry season, the
water table was found to decrease by more than 6 meters, which is a rather
large decrease given to the high demand of water supply of this tree species.

Therefore, the moment for protecting the tree is now. To delay giving it the
necessary support and care could create an irreversibly decline in its
health that could result is its dead. This would be a terrible end to such a
magnificent tree which is in itself an indicator of the overall status of
the land around it. Its loss would be a shame for this generation of
Oaxacans for not acting on time to solve this problem.

The task

Besides improving the Tule Tree life condition as well as the other trees,
an integral solution to the problem will be possible if and only if two
microriver basins  are restored to insure sufficient recharge of ground
water supplies. This means that immediate measures must be taken to insure
that these microbasins do not continue to deteriorate further both in
environmental and ecological aspects.

To address this need, the organization Mi Amigo el Arbol has proposed that
the state government declare the zone where the microbasins are located as a
protected area.

It is important to mention that near to this critical zone (where the source
of Oaxaca's water resources is located) is host to several industries and
that it has been decclared as the major industrial zone of the state,
according to the state zoning ordinance. Thus, the government protection by
means of a legal decree is necessary to restore the microbasins and to
facilitate vigorous actions to defend our natural resources and natural

Since the Tule tree is located near the city of Oaxaca, the habitat in which
it lives has a definite influence on the microclimate of the city. The use
of the surrounding area's soil has traditionally been for agriculture and
forestry besides being a most important tourist route. For this reason our
organization proposes the celebration of an agreement of conditions with the
federal, state and municipal governments to carry out programs of
sustainable development and programs of resource managenment involving
people living in the microriver basins.

Finally, taking into account the invaluable richness of the Tule tree and
the other ahuehuetes for which we Mexicans are so proud (the ahuehuete is
our National Tree), we propose to the federal and state governments to
request that the Convention of the Natural Endowment for the Humanity and
UNESCO to designate the Arbol del Tule  and its associated microbasins as
having maximum universal value, so that the interest in preserving and
improving the regions be on behalf of the people of the World. This in turn
will promote the Tule tree as a tourist attraction of the highest level and
will encourage the economic reactivation and sustainable development in the
state of Oaxaca.

Ing. Jorge Augusto Velasco
Presidente del Comite "Mi Amigo el Arbol"

Ciudad de Oaxaca, Oaxaca.
Saevis tranquillus in undis

Jorge X. Velasco Hernandez
Biometrics Unit
Cornell University

tel:  (607) 255-5488
fax: (607) 255-4690

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June Julian jj68@nyu.edu