The greatest risk to the conservation of the Maya Forest is the loss of the Master Maya Forest Gardeners
– Anabel Ford, the President of Exploring Solutions Past
The greatest threat to the conservation of the Maya forest is the loss of the Master Forest Gardeners. These tenacious traditionalists who manage the biological capital of their landscape, recognize that it is the careful development of the milpa field that nurtures the Maya forest that is a garden. We promote the value of the regenerative farming cycle that builds tropical woodlands to meet the necessities of life.
Encourage sustainable agricultural practices based on forest gardening
Expand traditional knowledge of plants and plant use, while maintaining a plant database
While excavating and leading the development of the ancient Maya city, El Pilar, the archeologist Anabel Ford became interested in the forest garden at the site. To learn about the ancient agricultural traditions, her nonprofit organization, Exploring Solutions Past, began consulting the contemporary Maya farmers.
This collaboration inspired the Maya forest gardeners to educate not only the researchers but also their community. Traditional farmers in the surrounding area of El Pilar in Belize and Guatemala united as the El Pilar Forest Garden Network in 2008 to share their unique knowledge of forest gardening, plant use, and ecology.
The core group in Belize still meets regularly to share knowledge and techniques, collaborate on community projects, and advocate for the conservation of the Maya Forest.