Scientists who ensured healthy forests are fired, lab shut down

Luis Gerardo Herrera Tuz ran Yucatán's seed laboratory. Photo: Courtesy
Luis Gerardo Herrera Tuz ran Yucatán’s seed laboratory. Photo: Courtesy

The Yucatan Peninsula’s natural treasures are at risk with the federal government’s closing of a 12-year-old science unit that protected its diverse plant life.

The Forest Germplasm Production Unit (UPGF), under the National Forestry Commission (Conafor), closed its doors July 1.

The shutdown leaves no one to manage and care for seeds to reforest Mexico’s southeast after natural or manmade disasters, said Luis Gerardo Herrera Tuz, who ran the lab.

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The lab managed seeds, leaves, stems and roots selected for their genetic and physical qualities. They were used to massively multiply forest species that are under protection, in accordance with Official Mexican Standard NOM-059, such as cedar and mahogany.

In lab, in the San José Tecoh neighborhood, sent healthy samples to Conafor nurseries or stored them to preserve various species.

The lab ensured survival for Yucatan’s native species, such as mahogany, ciricote, ramón, huano, parota and maculis morado, oak and cedar.

Scientists also protected teak and melina trees that, although they are not endemic species of Mexico, are hardwoods valuable to construction in the tropics.

He noted that there are two ways of conservation, depending on the type of seed. Ramon and maculis seeds need to be stored between one and two months; mahogany and ciricote would take up to 18 months. Cedar seeds are kept cool and dry up to 10 years.

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“In the laboratory we do purity analysis and germination tests. With the work we do, we guarantee the production of plants and then their delivery to the reforestation programs that Conafor has,” explained Herrera Tuz. “Due to the work that is done with them, the quality of the seeds and subsequently the survival of the plants in the nurseries is guaranteed.”

Source: Sipse

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