Acotado is a term used in the town El Castillo that means the steps in the “chop-slash-burn” process. Through this practice the forest disappears to create new areas for agriculture and pasture.
In Indio-Maíz Reserve the acotados are increasing due to the massive arrival of people. In many cases people that invade these properties are the ones causing this damage to the forest, but it can also be a service paid amongst neighbours. Some people in the area are getting paid C$1500 (US$55) to acotar an acre of forest in the protected area.
The socola is the first phase when preparing the ground. That’s when the vegetation under the trees (bushes and vines, etc.) gets uprooted. To finish the process the small to medium size trees get chopped down and all the vegetation stays in the area waiting for the summer.
The road to death ends when the branches, stems and leaves have dried out. In that moment is when they start burning the ground, two to three months after the first part of acotado has been done.
Every year the forest loses thousands of acres, leaving ashes what once were areas of abundant biodiversity.
In El Castillo during the summer local authorities try to control the agricultural fires that some farmers cause. However, the law hasn’t been put into action in the core zone of Indio Maiz. The Agricultural Association (MAG) says that through the Environmental and Natural Resources Association, the forest rangers gather data but don’t do anything to stop this destruction.