With a drop in produce prices, farming communities in Mexico have turned to alternative methods to bring in revenue. Mostly, this has led many to logging – selling chopped wood at the expense of the environment. The village of Nanacamilpa once cut down trees in order turn a profit. But now the village has found a more creative and sustainable solution. Initially, community leader Genaro Rueda Lopez tried to appeal to campers, but struggled to draw crowds. In 2011, however, members of the collective realized Piedra Canteada park – about 45 miles away from Mexico City – could entice visitors because of the arrival of millions of fireflies between June and August.
After promoting the lit-up attraction for five years, the cooperative of 42 families is seeing success. Families with children and couples looking for a romantic getaway are some of the most common visitors. “The amount of fireflies you see is impressive,” Mexico City native Carlos Landa told the AP. “Something that I also find quite impressive is their synchronicity: To turn off and turn on, that is something really spectacular. It’s like Christmas in the forest.”
The Nanacamilpa village still cuts down trees, but has reduced wood production by about 60 or 70 percent. The group has preserved more than 1,560 acres, and fireflies have become the top source of income.
The co-op has also made strides in not using pesticides, as to not kill any of the fireflies. “We are trying to treat the whole area here with no herbicides, because it’s logical if we have insecticides, that could affect the fireflies,” said Hugo Brindis, a certified guide at Granja Salma. “We are talking to biologists and the people who make these chemicals to see which have less of an effect on fireflies and the forest.”