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Rescuing Mahogany Trees and Other Endangered Species

Updated: Jan 4, 2022

If we tell you that the tree which Omar is showing us in the following picture is a mahogany, you might think that it’s a very young sample, maybe four or five... maybe ten years old. However, this famous hardwood tree is actually 40 years old.

For the mahogany tree to have its distinctive thick trunk, it has to be very old: maybe 200 or 300 years old. The fact that it’s a slow-growth tree is evident in the very origin of its Spanish name ‘caoba’: the word ‘tauba’ means ‘year’ in the Tupi language of an indigenous people from Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Bolivia; they used the highly visible rings on the trunks to mark the pass of time.

Unfortunately for the mahogany tree, its reddish wood has been prized for making luxury furniture, since colonial times. It’s native to the Americas and the variety that grows in Ecuador is the big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), which can be found from Mexico to the southern Brazilian Amazon. Despite the fact that it has been grown commercially for several decades now, its illegal extraction continues to be a serious problem throughout the region, as this logging is very destructive to the environment and has led this tree to be considered an endangered species.

In the Amazon region, illegal logging represents tens of millions of US dollars each year. Considering it’s a million-dollar business, how can we possibly mitigate this destruction? Furthermore, as long as there are people willing to pay thousands of dollars for a single old-growth tree, there will be people willing to selling one. Often, entire families depend on this occasional income for their livelihoods, as they have very valuable old-growth trees on their lands.

This is why Humans for Abundance has come up with two strategies for simultaneously helping the families in the Amazon secure a reliable source of income and for protecting these trees. The first strategy is to offer the restoration of farms as an ecoservice that can be bought by anyone around the world. With this money, local people learn how to restore the rainforest. They find the seeds for these native trees, regenerate the soil with natural fertilizers, plant the seedlings, and care for the trees.

The other strategy is our new ecoservice, which allows anyone to adopt one of these old-growth trees for a year, so that, for the same amount a family would get for selling the tree on the black market, instead, they will protect it from being cut down.

Omar Tello, who has made it his life's mission to restore his piece of the Amazon rainforest and rescue as many samples of native plants as he can, has many valuable trees on his property; such as mahogany, chambira palm, caspi, Peruvian almond, Peruvian balsam, and old fustic.

Our other farmers have fewer species of trees on their lands, but one can still find a few centenary samples that need protection.

If you wish to protect one of these valuable trees from being cut down, click on this link:

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