Fire at El Charco Del Ingenio Botanic Garden in Guanajuato, Mexico
These four photographs show the gardens at El Charco Del Ingenio Botanic Garden before and after the fire. (Photos: Kirsty Shaw, BGCI and Mario Hernandez, Director El Charco Del Ingenio Botanic Garden.)
On Tuesday 24th May, El Charco Del Ingenio Botanic Garden in Guanajuato, Mexico, suffered its most devastating fire to date writes Kirsty Shaw of BGCI.
El Charco, the outcome of a non-governmental project which aimed to conserve the local area, celebrated its 20th anniversary last year.In 2004, El Charco was designated as a Zona de Paz (Zone of Peace) by the Dalai Lama. Throughout the years since its establishment, the garden and adjoining reserve have protected local flora from urban encroachment and the previously degraded land within the reserve had become visibly restored. But last week’s fire affected 35 hectares, approximately 75%, of the reserve and it will take several years for the native flora that was destroyed to recover.
This year’s long drought period accompanied by the invasion of highly flammable grass species and strong winds led to such a damaging event. The fire commenced around midday and was initially controlled and extinguished by El Charco’s dedicated staff. Unfortunately, soon after, the fire started again with more force and spread quickly across the reserve. Thankfully the main visitor and propagation areas were not affected, due to the canyon and reservoir within the garden’s grounds acting as a natural barrier limiting the fire.
Work has already commenced to salvage as much of the native flora as possible in the reserve and clear up the damage. El Charco are asking for help financially or physically to support their efforts (see below). In the longer term, the garden aims to develop a new management plan for the reserve, based on the changing weather patterns and the invasion of flammable grasses.
El Charco was selected as a case study in the North American Collections Assessment, published by BGCI earlier this year, for its contribution to conserving Mexico’s threatened plants and community focused restoration programmes. The garden was also recently visited by BGCI’s Director of Education Programmes, Julia Willison, on her trip to Mexico in preparation for BGCI’s 8th International Congress on Education in Botanic Gardens, to be held in Mexico City’s UNAM Botanic Garden, in 2012. Our thoughts are with the staff of this wonderful garden.
How you can help....
If you live nearby to San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, then pick up some gloves, boots and garden tools (don’t forget your sunhat, sun cream and water bottle!) and head down to the garden from 9am to midday. Work is ongoing this week, but will be needed for a few months (check with the garden for further details of dates http://www.elcharco.org.mx/).
If you are further away and can’t offer your physical support, donations are welcomed. These can be made to the San Miguel Community Foundation, quote ‘El Charco’ (screen which follows payment details) when registering your donation, at the following address: http://www.sanmiguelcommunityfoundation.org/index.php?lengua=eng&pagina=main&seccion=002_donations