Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Case Study: Michoacan, Mexico
As part of the BBC World Service series on the Millennium Development Goals, a BBC producer visited a Purepecha indigenous community in Michoacan, Mexico.
San Juan Nuevo Paranaricutiro
Located in central Mexico, San Juan Nuevo Paranaricutiro is an indigenous forest cooperative that thrives on sustainability.
Mexico has suffered severe forest destruction in recent years. Few local communities have benefited. But at San Juan Nuevo, the community owns and protects its forest and runs a furniture factory.
"The woods allow everyone to survive here," said one woodcutter.
"They provide jobs for everyone. Every tree we cut down we replace with several others.
"In other parts of Mexico they donít have a future. We do, and for generations to come. It really makes me sad when other people don't care for their forests."
In their community factory, timber and furniture are prepared for the North American market. San Juan Nuevo is fortunate in having high-value wood - oak and pine Ė which can easily be sold and marketed.
Ambrocio Rodriquez Echevarria is the general manager of the timber business. He says environmental awareness dates from a natural disaster that struck over 60 years ago.
"I think a big motivating factor was the displacement of the community when the local volcano erupted in 1943," he explained.
"Many people did not want to move but when they did they wanted to protect the new land they had been given. They saw that if we didn't use the land rationally, then we would have nothing to fall back on.
"One of the main objectives of our business is to manage the woods, the fauna, the soil, and the water sensibly because they all have a role to play in the health of the environment. We have a responsibility to preserve and protect our resources."
San Juan Nuevo has faced many challenges, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), which has generated new competition and lowered prices.
But San Juan Nuevo is fortunate. Its products are particularly valuable so the business is viable.
Other businesses are not so lucky. Their timber cannot attract prices high enough to sustain a reasonable income.
A central factor in San Juan Nuevo's success is how the community has been able to blend strong indigenous traditions with entrepreneurship and a culture that emphasises higher education for its young people.
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