While some communities on Michoacán’s Purépecha Plateau make the headlines for illegal logging and unsustainable deforestation, Parangaricutiro is a different story.
The people of Nuevo San Juan Parangaricutiro have made a name for themselves through quality woodwork, a product of their sustainable harvest of the surrounding forests.
According to the president of the community assets commission, about 1,000 local citizens are dedicated to woodwork, from flooring to furniture and wood products that supply other industries.
The local industry got its start producing wooden packing crates, said Jesús Antolino Echevarría, but demand declined when the freight transportation industry shifted to cardboard boxes.
Undeterred, the town looked for options. “We take advantage of the whole pine tree; we don’t let anything go to waste. Pine branches and bark are used to feed the kilns where timber is dried, or they are ground for cellulose, which is then sent to Morelia and turned into paper.”
Another pine byproduct, resin, fluctuated in price a lot meaning it was not always profitable. So the town They made it easy for the resin collectors by providing them with the necessary tools, and then go and collect it from them.
The resin is processed to obtain tar and turpentine, which are then sold.
The benefits of the forest industry in Parangaricutiro extend beyond those directly employed in processing. There are people who work in transporting timber from remote mountain towns, “extracting everything up to the last branch, not leaving anything behind because we have to make use of it all.”
Wood flooring produced in Parangaricutiro is exported to Texas and sold domestically while furniture is marketed through the national department store chain, El Palacio de Hierro, which Antolino describes as one of their best but most demanding clients.
“There are no owners here, the local assembly is the highest authority, and we hold sessions every month. There’s also a smaller council, made up of the people with greater experience and who have held office in the community before,” said Antolino.
Source: Cambio de Michoacán (sp)