Ejido Coaba in Quintana Roo makes room for nature while maintaining a successful export business. Photo: Courtesy

Caobas, Q. Roo — The videos don’t lie. Ejido Caoba runs sustainable forestry enterprises on their land while maintaining a well-preserved — and astonishingly diverse — ecosystem on their land.

The Mayan group, inland of Chetumal, harvests and sells wood for the benefit of the entire community, replanting the trees they cut down. They also maintain camera traps to record the jungle’s biodiversity.

They have posted videos taken in November and December.

Ejido Coaba’s video shows a very active jungle coexisting with a forestry enterprise. Photo: Screen grab from YouTube video

Ejidos are part of a land tenure system in Mexico by which land is communally managed by local villages.

Ejido Caoba has balanced a busy business with respect for nature.

In 2016, Ejido Coaba sold $173,000 worth of certified mahogany to U.S.-based Gibson Guitars. The following year, the community planted 26,000 new trees of a variety of species, including 19,300 mahogany trees, 2,600 ciricote, and 3,900 chicozapote and ramón.

Ejido Caoba has 311 ejidatarios who collectively manage the nearly 68,000 hectares or 168,032 acres of community-owned land. Ejido Caoba has been certified for sustainable forest management by the Forest Stewardship Council for the past 25 years.

Pedro Pablo Chay Cocom, the ejido president, said that the community makes more money selling its wood on the international market than it does domestically, which is why certification is so important. “Without certification,” Chocom said, “selling wood would be very hard.”

Ejido Caoba also has its own sawmill and a workshop they make furniture — a “value-added” product that can bring in even more money than highly prized timber like mahogany. Ejidatarios also maintain a 32,500-hectare protected area and are trying to incorporate ecotourism into their business ventures.

They have posted their camera-trap videos on YouTube, demonstrating that with all the work they do, their land is still home to a variety of birds, including Ocellated turkeys, plain chachalacas, and great currasows, as well as a number of mammals, from Baird’s tapirs, White-nosed coatís, and gray foxes to wild cats like margays and ocelots.

See the videos and read more at Mongabay: News & Inspiration from Nature’s Frontline.

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