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Sun May 31, 2015, 04:20 PM

Racing To Save Mexico City's Floating Gardens

Racing To Save Mexico City's Floating Gardens

Unchecked urbanization is destroying what's left of the Mexican capital's pre-Aztec chinampas.

Frédéric Saliba (2015-05-31)


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Chinampas in Xochimilco
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MEXICO CITY — Pelicans glide in arrow formation over the lake at Xochimilco, south of Mexico City, as two elegant herons stand in the water and stare at a boatload of tourists. Extending across 7,500 hectares of canals and gardens, this bucolic landscape displays a range of greens almost unimaginable, all in sharp contrast to the smog and frenzy of the Mexican capital right next door.

The lake is the setting of chinampas, the floating vegetable gardens developed here more than 500 years ago. They are one of the last remaining features of the ancient Aztec capital of Mexico-Tenochtitlán, conquered by Spaniards in 1521.

Five centuries on, this network of waterways and artificial islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is threatened by the city's disorderly expansion and over-exploitation of its water resources. The government of Mexico City has an action plan, financed by France, to save this enormous district of the capital that is also the home of ancestral farming traditions and exceptional biodiversity.

"There is no time to lose," says resident Claudia Zenteno, pointing with clear frustration at plastic bottles, bags and cans floating in the dark, stagnant water outside her house.

More:
http://www.worldcrunch.com/rss/culture-society/racing-to-save-mexico-city-039-s-floating-gardens/xochimilco-lake-sewage-mexico-climate-change/c3s18554/#.VWtrvGdFDmQ

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