Sheets of paper | Our forests are burning! – The Sun of Mexico

There is a scene in the masterful film “The Blair Witch Project” (1999) in which the three young filmmakers who want to capture with their cameras the image of a witch that terrifies Blair (Maryland) for years, enter a sinister forest.

It is daytime and they are walking along abandoned paths. Little by little they move further and further away from civilization. Under their feet you can hear the squeaking of the dry leaves that they step on as they advance in search of their objective… Their almost metallic steps cut the dead silence of the surroundings…

The forest has that appearance that the directors of the film (Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez) wanted to give it: Sinister, quiet, silent, just some muffled noises, just the gloomy sun that penetrates, just an oppressive air that is breathed.

At night it is even worse: terrifying silence, absolute darkness, extraordinary noises here or there. Hidden lives. The exact climate to generate panic in the viewer.

In any case, the character that gives meaning to the film filmed as a documentary and that provides that feeling of fear-terror-panic is the forest. The forest that is there and is a silent witness of what happens and the truth or not of the Blair Witch; of life or death…

And so. Virtues and defects are attributed to forests; Life is attributed to them, but also mystery and danger.

They are the lungs of the world, it is said, and they are also the space in which many find a way of life, others find a refuge or perhaps an impregnable hiding place. Thousands of animal species or living entities coexist in them and find their habitat conducive to their development and life…

For centuries forests have been in the human imagination. They are at the same time privileged spaces in which the greatest feats of man occur, as well as the place that is a refuge for those who want to hide their lives and their actions, but above all, no one, at any time, reproaches the forests for their existence: It is part of our life, our environment, our solution…

Oaxaca is rich in beautiful forests. Mountains. Saws. Summits. Hollows. Rivers still crystal clear, hills covered by the most varied and amazing vegetation that eyes have ever seen. Of course there are valleys and plains, beaches and unexpected places that are foreign to the tourist eye, fortunately.

But we are in the woods. Not long ago, on a tour through the mountains of Ixtlán de Juárez, Oaxaca – in a place whose name I remember but which I won’t say because I don’t want it to lose its humility and greatness – we found ourselves one morning in a forest of fragrant oaks. , majestic and covered with lush leaves on their branches that sway restlessly, airy and happy…

It is an imposing forest that is reached by a dirt path, going up and down some rocks until reaching a large cliff whose height, seen from below, makes us feel insignificant due to its grandeur, which protects a space whose naturalness is within reach. view: a mighty river whose crystalline water comes down cold from the mountain and which in the reflection of the sun gives the impression of being thousands of luminous glass fragments.

The river runs stormy as if endless. One can enter its current and feel the force of the water, but at the same time its generosity and freshness. On the banks there are huge rocks and small ancient river stones, as if they were small petrified eggs. My cousins ​​raise one, the most beautiful, and give it to me: I keep it.

The trees of the forest are there, watching the water pass for years-years-years. They tirelessly enjoy their stay in a place that is almost paradise. Solitary and safe, because its few inhabitants receive you with great joy and cordiality.

There is nature in all its virginity, ready to see us without fear or qualms. Nature lives there, and we little human beings who enjoy and respect it…

And like this place, there are millions around the world. According to the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 (FAO) report, the total area of ​​forests in the world is 4,060 million hectares, which corresponds to 31 percent of the total surface of the earth.

Mexico has 655,643 square kilometers of forests. According to the National Forestry Program 2020-2024 published by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat); Mexico is listed as one of the 12 megadiverse countries that, together, are home to 70 percent of the terrestrial flora and fauna on a global scale.

But every monument to human life, which is almost bucolic and emotional, has enemies. Many enemies. And there are as many dangers as human folly: Fire is one of them. Immoderate and predatory logging, too. The scoundrels and their accomplices murder our forests, unfortunately.

In our country, fires have broken out in forests for some time now. Many. According to official data, until March 28, 1,091 forest fires had occurred in different states of the Republic, which has affected 37,409 hectares of forests. Thousands of hectares of herbaceous surface have also been affected.

The states of the Republic in which most of the fires have occurred in 2024 are State of Mexico, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Morelos, Chiapas, Durango, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Puebla and Hidalgo, which represent 88% of the national total, according to the National Weather Service.

Suddenly a spark. Suddenly a broken bottle that reproduces solar heat and burns the leaf litter. Suddenly poorly extinguished bonfires. Suddenly a match was thrown at the dry leaf or grass. Suddenly a criminal hand deliberately sets fire to a forest, an area of ​​dry grass, a space that has been cultivated for years and that is suddenly on fire.

Because although many forest fires are caused by natural causes; In many others it has to do with the hand of man and his criminal ambition.

There is everything, but only one result: the burning of forests and spaces susceptible to plant life and, of course, human life, because it is the forests that accumulate the water so necessary today for everyone:

‘They maintain the water supply in quality and quantity. They generate oxygen. They control erosion, as well as the generation, conservation and recovery of soil. They contribute to the capture of carbon and the assimilation of various pollutants.’ …

‘The scientific consensus holds that as long as we keep heat-trapping gases, like CO2, in biomass [el tejido vivo de los árboles] We will be able to reduce climate-related changes such as powerful storms, floods and major droughts. Trees, therefore, protect us.

Reality surpasses fantasy, it is said. And it is true. But fantasy also reminds us how important forests are for human beings in their lives, but also in dreams and even in their noble nightmares:

The forest ofSnow White” and his fierce Big Bad Wolf; Isherwood, the forest of “Robin Hood” where his exploits will always be remembered in his fight for the poor; In the stories of the Brothers Grimm, the forests of Reinhardswald, in Germany, became the place where magic can happen and the fantasy that is memory…

Like many fantastic characters from literary works full of imagination, they live in the depths of the forest. Also many of them are villains, especially witches. They have their houses there, which are often found by the protagonists, usually children, in a fortuitous way.

For example in “Hansel and Gretel”, when they arrive at the chocolate and candy house of the witch, who finally captures them. AND “Bambi”? AND “The last of the Mohicans”? AND “The dream of a nigth of summer” by Shakespeare? AND “Ivanhoe”? either “Heart of Darkness”? …what would they do, what would become of them if they had not happened in a forest… in the forest that belongs to everyone… Or what would become of “In search of the king“If his great friend Blondel had not crossed the most inhospitable forests to find him and save him…

“In a forest in China, the little girl got lost. Since I was lost, we both found each other. It was night and the little girl was afraid, she was afraid of walking alone. She walked for a while and sat down. Next to the Chinese woman, next to the Chinese woman I sat…: And I said yes; she doesn’t…”.

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