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28 July 2016

Villagers and fireflies join forces to protect Mexico’s forests

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In Nanacamilpa, on the outskirts of Mexico City, thousands of tiny fireflies are helping villagers make a living protecting forests. 

Fireflies visit Piedra Canteada park between June and August. Recognizing that families with children and those seeking a romantic getaway might be attracted to a forest illuminated by the glow of a million fireflies, a cooperative has emerged among local families to capitalize on the magical spectacle. A reminder that local efforts really are best placed to challenge environmental degradation, villagers are embracing the forest’s eco-tourism potential to earn a living without cutting down trees.

Today, the park’s cabins and camping plots are booked weeks in advance. 

The park is not managed by the government, but rather under the protection of the 42 families that make up the cooperative. Though they continue to cut some trees, they have protected over 630 hectares made possible by the income from tourists. 

One of the cooperative’s founders, Genaro Rueda Lopez explained that “it’s like a garden, you have to remove the branches yourself, the dry parts, the parts with diseases to really grow”. “We log, we live from the forest, from cutting trees, but in an orderly way”, Genaro continues. 

Fireflies, as opposed to logging, are now their main source of income. 

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