Ecosystem Service Replication on Damaged Land in the Maya Mountains of Belize

Much of the lowland humid tropics is densely populated, and soils have been depleted by monocultures. Traditional sustainable agricultural models have been discarded in favor of petroleum dependent models. Traditional foods have been displaced by cheap processed imported foods. Land has been degraded by monoculture and unsustainable practices tied to increasing population density. In this area, we have spent the last 26 years regenerating former citrus and cattle land that has been severely damaged.  Many of the lessons we have learned are applicable to other lands in the lowland humid tropics. I run Maya Mountain research Farm, a registered NGO that works very closely with the communities adjacent to the Maya Mountains on issues tied to ecosystem replication through agroecology.


I was born and raised in NYC. I moved to Central America at age 19. I have been farming on damaged land from the age of 22. Since 1988, I have worked to repair a damaged former citrus and cattle farm, where I now manage over 500 species of plants, plus raise poultry and pigs. I apply permaculture principles and ethics to land use, and teach others here how to do the same.

Christopher Nesbitt and Celini Logan manage the Maya Mountain Research Farm in the southern Toledo District of Belize. It is situated in one of the poorest areas of Belize, with high levels of rural poverty, especially in the largely indigenous western half of the district. Founded in 1988, the farm is one of the oldest permaculture projects in Central America; demonstrating a 26 year transition from damaged cattle and citrus land to a model permaculture farm, turning degraded monoculture into a polyculture of over 500 species.

    “Our main area of interest is the intersection between agriculture and ecology, with specific focus on agroforestry as a tool for favorable energy returned on energy invested agricultural models that produce food timber, fiber, medicinal and marketable crops, but also replicate ecosystem services like carbon sequestration, soil and soil moisture retention and habitat creation. Additionally we work in areas of energy poverty, having installed photovoltaic lighting systems in schools in nine indigenous communities and one refugee community, as well as two village level photovoltaic water pumping systems.”

“[...] IPC in Cuba was[...] amazing for us, as geographically isolated as we are, and has resulted in a much increased ability to share permaculture in communities that are applying what they learn, now. These are the front lines in climate change and these are the communities that will be most adversely affected.”

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Maya Mountain Research Farm

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