The Mexican state of Michoacán is home to at least 35,000 illegal avocado orchards according to government estimates.
Speaking at an event to commemorate World Earth Day on 22 April, Ricardo Luna of the Ministry of the Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change said the farms were operating without having secured the necessary land use permits.
Luna noted that illegal avocado production and forest fires are the two biggest causes of deforestation in the state.
The state has implemented a number of programmes to reclaim the land and remove the orchards.
The government estimates that at least 40 per cent of forest damage is due to the installation of illegal orchards and has implemented a number of initiatives to address the issue. It is in the process of producing an inventory of all the forests that have been deliberately destroyed by fire so that they can be classified as protected natural areas.
“All the people rubbing their hands thinking that they will be able to install avocado orchards in the deforested areas will be prevented from doing so,” Luna said.
He estimates that around 16,000 ha of forests and pastures are lost every year in Michoacán to illegal fires.