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Scientists condemn expansion of industrial monocultures at expense of traditional gardens in Mexico

15 / 07 / 2017, Mongabaycom News

Conservation scientists meeting in Mexico are warning that planned expansion of industrial monocultures in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula poses a threat to traditional agricultural practices that help maintain biodiversity and ecosystem function. At the conclusion of the annual meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC), which involved 750 participants from more than 40 countries, scientists issued the Mérida Declaration calling for public policies that "foster and protect" traditional Mayan agricultural practices, including the Milpa, a poly-cultivation system. “The Yucatán Peninsula is home to an astonishing number of plant and animal species. Its diverse flora and fauna is found in tropical dry to evergreen forests, mangroves, seasonally inundated forests, coastal wetlands and dunes”, said Tony Lynam, co-chair of the ATBC conservation committee, in a statement. “For more than 3,000 years the Maya people have been an integral part of a dynamic living landscape across the region. The Maya domesticated their forest landscape, and have co-created the biodiversity in Yucatán Peninsula through the ancient Milpa-forest garden cycle." [caption id="attachment_197350" align="aligncenter" width="780"] Forest on the Yucatan Peninsula. Photo by Rhett A. Butler for Mongabay.[/caption] "The Milpa-forest garden cycle is a vital living example of sustainable tropical landscape management that also provides food sovereignty for local human communities," added Steve Turton, co-chair of the ATBC conservation committee. But this traditional management approach is under threat from expansion of industrial agriculture, including oil palm plantations and soybean farms. And while Mexico has traditionally been at the forefront of recognizing community forest management and…

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