Mexico City, April 29th, 2021.
On Monday, April 26th, 2021, the “Decree amending various provisions of the General Law on Sustainable Forestry Development” (the “Decree”), was published and entered into force the day after its publication in the agricultural Official Gazette of the Federation (“DOF”)”. The main provisions contained in the decree are:
- The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development («SAGARPA«) is prohibited from granting economic incentives for agriculture, livestock, forestry and aquaculture activities in deforested areas or increase the forest frontier.
- The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (“SEMARNAT”), SAGARPA and the National Forestry Commission (“CONAFOR”) will define in a coordinated manner the land use policy to stabilize its use, by developing sustainable practices.
- It is forbidden to the various instances of the federal government, state and municipal governments to grant incentives to individuals on forest lands whose land use change has not been authorized by SEMARNAT.· Regarding the authorization of the change of forest land use, the following reforms were introduced:
- SEMARNAT will only be able to authorize the change of land use in forest lands with the prior technical opinion of the members of the State Forestry Council and based on the corresponding supporting technical studies (Estudio Técnico Justificativo “ETJ”).
- When it is intended to authorize the change of use of forest land in lands located in indigenous territory, it will be necessary to carry out a prior, free, informed, culturally adequate and good faith consultation, for the above, SEMARNAT must act in coordination with the National Institute of the Indigenous Peoples.
- SEMARNAT will not be able to authorize changes in forest use when the loss of forest cover was caused by fire or clearing without 20 years having passed and it being proven that the affected forest vegetation has regenerated.
It is worth considering that the right to indigenous consultation in Mexico is already recognized through Article 6 of Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization on indigenous and tribal peoples, and in Article 2 of the Constitution Mexico, however, on June 10, 2020, the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice ordered the Federal Congress to issue a law which regulates this right.
Likewise, it must be remembered that according to the Law on Sustainable Forestry Development, those persons who carry out works or activities on forest lands without the authorization of SEMARNAT or cause serious damage or deterioration to forest ecosystems will be held accountable with administrative fines of between $ 3,584 (m.n.) and up to $ 2,688,600 (m.n.), as well as for the confiscation of assets used in the work or activity and, where appropriate, temporary or definitive closure of the activities. The foregoing without prejudice to the criminal consequences which may arise in accordance with the Federal Penal Code.
Our practice in Environmental Law is at your service to clarify any questions which may arise on this matter.
S I N C E R E L Y,
Daniel Del Río