June 10, 2005

Trees, Tijuana’s lungs

By Luis Alonso Pérez

Maria Guadalupe Pantoja is walking in front of Tijuana’s city hall with her daughter, each one is carrying a small tree in each hand. She is taking them home to Colonia del Niño so they can adorn her entrance “I want to buy two pretty pots and put them on each side of my door” she said.

But Mrs. Pantoja isn’t only decorating her house; she is collaborating in her own way with the city’s foresting, one of the biggest deficiencies in booming border towns like Tijuana.

As a way of integrating the community in the afforesting task, local government, through the Department of Foresting and Cemeteries (DFP) has created the campaign “Adopt a tree” with the goal of donating 600 trees a week, to Tijuana citizens.

Every Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. the campaign stand, located in the middle of the town hall, is open for the public. “It’s unusual to see trees still left by three p.m. because they go fast” said Jaime Bracamontes, sub-director of the DFP, who assures the campaign, has had a positive response. “The idea is to contribute with the city’s environment, so it can improve a little bit” said Jaime.

There are also other ways to adopt a tree, if someone belongs to a civil association or a neighborhood committee, you can come down to city hall and make a written request to the director of Public Works. Regularly they donate from 200 to 300 trees and in some cases the DFP can help by out by planting them.

There are two mayor nurseries in Tijuana which supply the DFP and the tree donation campaign. One is located in Parque Morelos and the other one is the municipal nursery in Otay.

Parks and gardens are the city’s lungs, but they are currently in standard shape because there’s still a lot of work to do, but it’s very important that the community lends a hand in taking care of our surroundings.

On Saturdays there has been cleaning and weed cutting campaigns because of the risk of these areas catching fire and causing physical and material damage. The DFP is also working in collaboration with the Secretary of National Defense. On Saturdays they provide approximately 150 to 200 military service conscripts.

Tijuana’s business sector has also been invited to collaborate with local government through the program “adopt an area” Which consists in a company’s commitment to maintain a forested area in the city, regularly the areas near by their headquarters.

The possibility of creating “Foresting committees” in neighborhoods throughout the city has been recently analyzed, so the whole community can lend a hand to local government in taking care of Tijuana’s parks and forested areas.

The challenge of foresting Tijuana is quite big and sometimes it’s not even considered as a priority in the budgeting process, however the community has responded favorably to the initiatives and campaigns that local governments have proposed, with the participation of all of the communities sectors including the business and civil sectors as well as the collaboration of other government institutions.

For more information please call (52) 664 9737148 and 49, the Department of Forestation and Cemeteries.

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