A company that specialises in salvaging timber from beneath the alligator-infested waters of Panama's Lake Bayano has been named as a "Green Hero" by Grand Designs host and design guru Kevin McCloud.
CoastEco Timber has a 15,000ha underwater concession thought to contain around 600m board feet of timber and 15 hardwood species, some of which are extremely rare. Some of the lake's trees are up to 600 years old.
Salvaged pieces bears the green stamp of approval from the Rainforest Alliance under the Rediscovered Wood certification programme. All CoastEco's wood from Panama is also certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, verifying it has been sourced in an environmentally responsible way.
Now the company's green credentials have been recognised by Kevin McCloud ahead of the Grand Designs Live show at London's ExCeL centre next spring.
The business is run by Canadian-born Alana Husby, whose family roots in the British Columbia timber trade go back to the 1800s.
Alongside her operation in Panama, she has set up the DoGoodWood fund, a charity that receives a percentage of each sale of manufactured Rainforest Alliance Rediscovered Wood to support the local communities where the timber was grown.
In return, she has been adopted into the indigenous Kuna Madugandi tribe and given the name Olonadilii, meaning Daughter of the Moon.
"For me, CoastEco Timber is not just a business, it's a community service," she said.
"Having grown up in a small, remote village in Canada I experienced first-hand how the good work of one person affected the community as a whole. Working with the Kuna people of Panama has been in equal parts a dedication and a blessing for me.
"By transforming a challenge into an opportunity through the power of grassroots action, we have created the DoGoodWood Fund with the aim of building the first large-scale school connecting 14 villages through education. This is still a dream of mine which is a few years away. It was an honour to be given the name Olonadilii, meaning Daughter of the Moon, by the Kuna chief as a sign of mutual respect and admiration through this process. The Kuna people have elevated my life and inspired my business in immeasurable ways that will only continue to progress as we expand and work together to build a better world."
Grand Designs Live takes place from 2-10 May.