On a stifling hot afternoon, five men make their way through the dense rainforest of northern Colombia. Frazier Guisao, a former logger, heads the single-file line, slicing through the thick undergrowth with a machete to carve out a narrow tunnel.
Guisao and his team wear T-shirts embossed with bright letters spelling out COCOMASUR, an abbreviation of the Spanish name of their small Afro-Colombian enclave, known as the Black Communities of the Tolo River and Southern Coast.
When the group pauses for a break at the base of a giant almendro tree, Guisao looks up to examine it. Trees in this region can reach as high as 10-story buildings. The trunk of this one would take 15 people hand-in-hand to surround. “This wood is worth around three million pesos in town,” he says. That’s about $1,500.
Guisao and his team are here to make sure that these trees are never cleared for profit, though.
Three years ago, the Tolo River community decided not to log its 32,000 acres of rainforest, and instead to protect it for its pristine habitat and the river that gives the community both its nam... Read more