In October 2012, Gerardo Ruiz, attended the General Assembly in the Wixarika (Huichol) community of Tuapurie with Juan Negrin, Director of the Wixarika Resarch Center, were they were formally petitioned by the community to help them design and implement a regenerative forestry program integrated into the community’s autonomous high school, a challenge that was gladly accepted. It should be noted that Mexico’s Secretary of Education has formally recognized the Community High School and the director of the high school has received a number of awards for his work in developing the school and its unique cultural-ecological appropriate curriculum.
Tuapurie is located in the in the Western Sierra Madre in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. It’s well known as one of the most traditional indigenous communities in the country, preserving their way of life, their culture and their connection with nature remarkably strong.
The project will assist the Wixárika people in establishing a model that promotes the regenerative use and conservation of its biodiversity-rich native forest which can be reproduced in communities inside and out of Wixárika territory.
The objectives of the project are:
- Stop deforestation by providing an alternative to clear cutting.
- Offer training to the students in selective harvesting, coppicing, forest restoration and value-added wood processing like board milling, solar drying and carpentry.
- Create a local source of wood products for construction, fencing, furniture and art for the high school and the community.
- Generate income by selling value-added wood products to the local and external market.
- Prevent the migration of young adults by creating a sustainable source of income for the students, the high school, and the community.
- Regenerate the land affected by clear cutting with erosion control methods and reforestation.
The first phase of the project involves the construction of an adobe solar kiln to produce high quality dried wood boards for the student’s carpentry class. Once the kiln is ready, a professor from the University of Guadalajara will provide training to the students and the teachers on wood drying. We are currently building the adobe solar kiln with the support of the community, the students and the teachers from the high school.
This project will offer the Wixárika people the opportunity to make a transition from commodity log exporters to sustainable timber product manufacturers for local and external markets, strengthening indigenous autonomy and sovereignty and reducing migration and exposure to toxic pesticides in the tobacco, or tomato industry jobs. The project will also advance the financial sustainability of this unique autonomous high school and move forward with the development of a new campus that will also serve as an indigenous-permaculture demonstration site for the Wixarika people.