Ya’axtal, the Green Lungs of Mérida

In 2019 Mérida’s mayor, Renán Barrera Concha, set in motion an environmental initiative called Ya’axtal (“regreen” in Mérida’s local Mayan dialect) to connect the parks and public spaces across the west of the city. The initiative aims to connect the Xoclán, Anikabil, and Animaya parks, bringing them together both physically and functionally to increase their environmental and social benefits, and to preserve their cultural heritage, with the overall objective of improving the quality of life of Mérida’s citizens.

Historically, the Xoclán park was a settlement in the outskirts of the ancient Mayan city of ‘Jo’. Within the park you can still find 64 pre-Hispanic structures including 3 pyramids, the largest of which is 9 meters high. In this park Mérida’s city council aims to create an ‘Urban Tropical Forest’ to keep this park in its natural state. To do so, the municipality plans to build a sustainable drainage system to regulate and secure access to clean water, as well as manage waste, create composting systems, and take care of the native ecosystem. For more information on the Parque Arqueo-ecológico Cultural de Xoclán, see here.

The parks’ green areas will be cared for using a “forest gardening” method, promoting biodiversity by planting native herbs, flowers, bushes, and trees, promoting tree growth and creating a beautiful natural space for local residents.

The goal of creating these “great green lungs” is to mitigate the effects of climate change, protect the city’s cultural heritage, enhance the city’s green areas, provide residents with health benefits, and improve the area’s urban mobility – all in all, to improve the quality of life of Mérida’s citizens.