A general ecological characterization of the northeastern portion of the Yucatan Peninsula will be undertaken to provide the basis for the understanding of land use changes through time in this unique environmental site in the remote, recent past and present. The most advanced approaches in remote sensing will be used, complemented with intensive terrestrial studies. The area includes marine, coastal and island ecosystems as well as wetlands, forests of different kinds and savannas. The environmental information will be used to construct some possible scenarios related to climate change, economic change and population growth change.
This program has started with an archeological reconnaissance of the area. As mentioned before, early results have been very encouraging, with the possible discovery of a major unknown wetland management system of the ancient Maya at the El Eden Reserve.
A series of experiments to explore the design of better agroforestry systems are underway at El Edén reserve. The main objective of this projects are to find alternative systems to the slash-burn agriculture system and to develop experimental agroforestry systems. The general approach will be to use traditional systems that require low chemical inputs and have low capital requirements. Studies about periphyton agricultural potential are underway too.