Miguel Ángel de Quevedo

The Apostle of the Trees


Miguel Ángel de Quevedo Zubieta was born in 1862 in Guadalajara. His mother died when he was ten, and his father, seven years later.

Orphaned, he was sent to live with an uncle in France. It's said that his interest in nature began in the Pyrenees, the mountain-region bordering Spain and France. After improving his rudimentary knowledge of French at the College of Saint Louis in Bayonne, he switched to the College of Resorre, near the mountains.

Quevedo's studies were mixed with frequent field trips and thereafter he remained interested in forests and mountains.

He finished an undergraduate degree in 1883 in France, and then went on to study civil engineering. Having completed his degree and upon returning to Mexico, Quevedo's first job was working on a drainage project for the entire Valley of Mexico. Seriously injured on the job, he quit the project but thankfully recovered.

After working for a railroad company, he was hired by a French firm to investigate the potential for hydraulic electricity in Mexico. That position exposed him to the many issues resulting from deforestation, including flooding and similar environmental hazards.

Prior to the Mexican Revolution, Quevedo befriended a French businessman, Ernesto Pugibet. With Pugibet's support Quevedo designed and constructed several important projects. Among them, the Buen Tono Church and Plaza in the city center, (very near to the San Juan Market). Alongside Pugibet's workers, Quevedo completed the enormous and still outstanding Edificio La Mascota. It's today among the city's oldest condominium projects.

Quevedo went on to become head of the Forest Department of the Ministry of Agriculture. He later founded the Mexican Forest Society. At about this time he purchased the Panzacola Ranch in what is today Coyoacán. He changed the name to the Arboretum Ranch and began planting trees there.

Part of that land is still the base of the Viveros of Coyoacán National Park and city tree nursery for all of Mexico City.

In 1935, he was appointed director of the Ministry of Agriculture in the Forest Hunting and Fishing Department. He wrote several books and lectured throughout his life on forest diversity and care. Now widely considered amongst Mexico's first true naturalist and environmentalist.

Sources cited on this page: 

Infobae: La Mascota: el primer edificio de condominios
 Instituto Nacional de Ecología. Miguel Ángel de Quevedo: El apóstol del árbol 


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