de El Pilar
Bullet Tree Falls, Cayo
Road to Bullet Tree
Camino a Bullet Tree
technologies have evolved to fulfill subsistence requirements of society. Traditional
agriculture is focused on the basic production and consumption unit: the household. These
traditions rely on polycultural strategies mimicking the native environment. They are based on
an "industrious evolution" of labor investment rather than scarce capital inputs. The
strategy for household survival is modeled after natural environmental diversity. Throughout the
equatorial tropics such contemporary strategies have proved sustainable at the household level
over the long-term.
Ancient resource management systems, as with contemporary ones, were developed over the
course of millennia to minimize instability, prevent degradation and integrate both intensive and
extensive labor techniques that maximize production. Traditional polycultural systems
undoubtedly supported the long evolution and development of ancient Maya. Heterogeneous
and biodiverse, the poylcultural forest garden provided an effective strategy for survival and
constituted the strength of the Maya community both in the past as well as the present. This
polycultural system relies on the traditional knowledge of local farming households that today
are rapidly abandoning time-proven methods in exchange for introduced technologies.
At El Pilar, the innovative polycultural design is based on a small-scale household plan and
includes annuals and perennials interspersed with tree crops. Working with local
consejeros, appropriate combinations of cultigens and native economic plants are being determined. This
polycultural system is adaptable to variations in forest cover, soil fertility, proximity to population
and other local conditions. The Maya forest garden at El Pilar provides an ongoing source of
innovation for the community, fostering resource conservation and community development that
aligns with rather than opposes the natural regenerative processes of the tropical forest.
The forest garden at El Pilar incorporates the village communities' contribution towards the
sustainable management of their own resources. Experiments within the reserve will be fully
documented, recording failures and underscoring successes. Through farmer participation and local networking, experience and knowledge can be shared beyond the boundaries of the
reserve with the goal of restoring the local landscape to a state of greater biological diversity.
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