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CQUni academic helps focus world attention on protecting traditional agriculture in Mexico

CQUni academic helps focus world attention on protecting traditional agriculture in Mexico

Published:17 July 2017

CQUniversity Adjunct Professor of Environmental Geography Stephen Turton.

CQUniversity Adjunct Professor Steve Turton has recently been in Mexico helping to focus world attention on protecting traditional Maya agricultural practices in the Yucatán Peninsula - a place of great environmental diversity and global significance.

As co-chair of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) Conservation Committee, the Cairns-based academic coordinated preparation of 'The Mérida Declaration'.

He helped to focus the concerns of 750 tropical biologists from more than 40 countries who gathered for a major conference.

"Our ATBC members unanimously endorsed the Mérida Declaration calling for sustained public policies that foster and protect Maya agricultural and conservation practices in the Yucatán Peninsula," Professor Turton says.

He says that, for more than 3000 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.

“ATBC highlights the highly successful conservation initiatives developed in the Yucatán Peninsula and supports the current public policies that are fostering the protection of the large biocultural diversity in the region”, Professor Turton says.

“The Milpa-forest garden cycle is a vital living example of sustainable tropical landscape management that also provides food sovereignty for local human communities.

"The Mérida Declaration raises concerns about the planned expansion of industrial agriculture into the Yucatán over coming years.

“In our collective scientific view, such agricultural expansion into the Yucatán will almost certainly result in negative cultural, economic and environmental consequences for the Maya people and all human inhabitants in the region”.