Cherán is an indigenous Purépecha town located in Michoacán state in Mexico. It's the only town in Mexico that has succeeded in completely expelling the cartels, the political parties, and the state security forces from its territory after a huge uprising mainly led by women in 2011. Since then, they have autonomously governed and protected themselves, and critically, they have taken back the vast forest that the cartels had been logging illegally to exploit the natural resources of the town.
With an impressive community-built infrastructure, they have now reforested thousands of acres, as well as developed sustainable and environmental systems that fund social programs in the community. This project looks at how this town has managed to succeed in its environmental activism in an extremely violent place like Michoacán - the state where the drug war was first launched in 2006 - while in the rest of Mexico, people who try to protect natural resources are frequently murdered.
Before Cherán’s reforestation efforts began, criminal groups had logged almost 20,000 of the town’s approximately 30,000 acres of forest. A decade later, the forest, made up of oaks, pines and other species, has been significantly restored. According to local officials, since the start of the reforestation program over 17,000 acres have been reforested, meaning Cherán has all but finished healing the damage left by years of illegal logging.