In the savannah, north of the Kanuku mountains of Guyana, the village of Nappi is the site of a unique business that is helping to save the rich tropical forests of the region.
The indigenous Macushi Ameridians design, craft and sell small articles made of latex known as balata, harvested from the bulletwood tree. This wood is termite-proof and very durable. For nearly a century batata latex was their main source of income. It was first harvested commercially in Guyana in 1863 and was exported for use in manufacture of boots, golf balls and many other applications. After 1960, when synthetic substitutes sent the balata market into decline, the villagers suffered economic hardship. The crisis drove people to seek more profitable jobs but unsustainable land use put the forests at risk.
The Macushi have been crafting sculptures like this tree ornamented with birds I bought in Baganara island. No molds are used, each piece is a work of art. If we buy balanta products we help support the Macushi indians and the forest.