In the depths of Amazon peruana inhabit trees of imposing height and resistant wood, but they are less and less. Hundreds of shihuahuacos are felled daily for not being considered a protected species in the countryso only a group of people defends its conservation and warns about the destruction of the forest that brings about its disappearance.
Tatiana Espinosa, environmental defender of this Amazonian region, calls the shihuahuacos the “grandparents of the Amazon”. What happens is that They are slow-growing plants: to reach a meter in diameter they have to live 700 years. However, its properties of high density, hardness and size (they measure up to 60 meters in height), made it a coveted species abroad.
“The shihuahuaco is a highly demanded species in the international market and that is why it is being felled indiscriminately, putting its entire population and ecosystem at risk”explained Espinosa, who is also a forestry engineer and founder of the Arbio organization, which is dedicated to the protection and conservation of the Amazon.
In the world market, shihuahuaco wood is known as “iron wood”. After felling, the wood is transported through the razed forest and transferred to Lima, the Peruvian capital. Part of the total stays in the country and another part is exported, mainly to the United States and China, but there is also a market in Mexico and Europe.
That’s why, Espinosa proposes creating a kind of “black label” so that this resource has a bad reputation and so that consumers are aware of where the wood comes from that ends up on your furniture, on your floors, and in your door frames.
Risks to the ecosystem
The Peruvian environmental defender warns about one of the dangers of cutting down these centuries-old or millennial trees. “By cutting down one of these large trees, giant clearings are opened, a lot of destruction is created in the forest”, the agency Efe indicated in an interview. However, all the variables that can affect the ecosystem of this area of the Amazon.
What happens is that the commercial vision of the forest is not only limited to the wood market, but also encompasses the Peruvian academy, where not enough knowledge is produced about the life cycle of these species or what are the animals that they need in their habitat.
“In Peru, the almost exclusive purpose of handling and management of forests has been the production of wood, that is the big problem,” Espinosa said. However, there is one certainty: if we don’t act now, in a decade, the shihuahuaco will only be a memory.