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Dig, dump, repeat, then watch the forest grow: Q&A with mangrove restorer Keila Vazquez

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CHELEM, Mexico — In Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, a few words describe the most common occupations: fisher, merchant, mother. Over the past decade, the port town of Chelem has seen the emergence of a new line of work. Starting in 2010, a group of 18 local women, many of them descended from the Maya, have undertaken the conservation and restoration of their local mangrove forests. They call themselves Las Chelemeras. Located 51 kilometers (32 miles) north of the city of Mérida, Chelem borders some 100 hectares (247 acres) of red and black mangrove trees, where crocodiles, crappies and kingfishers…

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