How the Ancient Mayans Can Shine a Light on Today’s Environmental Issues

Lentz told WQXR that the ancient Maya initially used slash-and-burn agriculture. But over time and as their population grew, these farming methods created problems such as erosion that the ancient Maya had to address.

“They developed more sustainable farming and agroforestry techniques to control erosion and intensify food production,” Lentz said.

“They protected tracts of forest to maintain large amounts of forest cover and conserve habitat,” Lentz said.

These forests contained important medicinal plants and sources of timber, he said.

Composer Layale Chaker and pianist Fabian Alamazan will join Lentz for a discussion on music and environmental stewardship.

Lentz told WQXR that the ancient Maya protected sacred groves and planted parks around their reservoirs in some cities. But they also converted part of the rainforest to pine savannah through the continued use of slash-and-burn farming methods.

But Lentz said those rainforests have recovered over time, giving him hope for deforested rainforests in the world today.

“There is some hope that even though some of this land in the Amazon has been degraded, if we can leave it alone long enough, these forests will come back,” Lentz said.

Hear the story of WQXR.