Mixing ancient farming practices with modern science is saving forests in Mexico

The heart of Maya culture is the thick, steamy forest, known locally as “el monte,” that covers the peninsula. With hundreds of species of trees, the forest is home to awe-inspiring animals like jaguars and pumas, and is the source of the healing plants and herbs traditionally used by the Mayas. The farms and ranches here are carved from this forest. But now, The Nature Conservancy is working with 82 communities across the Yucatan Peninsula to stop deforestation. The goal is better crop, cattle and logging yields, which will allow farmers, ranchers and loggers to clear less forest. To a large extent, the key to success here lies in promoting systems of growing food that have already evolved over thousands of years to succeed in this landscape—and enhancing them to work even when the rains are unpredictable.
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