The Southern Maya Project for Archaeology and Community (SMPAC) is involved with a project which will add variety to the mono-cultural tree schemes that are common in coffee growing areas of Chocola, where tens of thousands of acres of forest have been replaced with a single variety of tree to provide shade for coffee plants.
A group of farmers will begin planting a variety of trees including: the cacao; possibly a nut tree called the Ramon; the Madre de Cacao, which is very tall and provides shade to the cacao; the petaxte, which is a tall tree producing a different kind of cacao; and some hardwood trees that are part of a government re-forestation program. So minimally, we have an agreement for planting four to five trees on the palate.
The SMPAC has had meetings with the Guatemala office of the Rainforest Alliance and they have agreed to partner in an education program and in the selection of native trees that (a) will grow well in the Chocola climatic zone and (b) will yield fruit, nuts, cacao, petaxte or shade, which the farmers prize.
The Maya archaeological site at Chocola holds promise for answering questions about the origins of ancient Mayan civilization. The largely unexcavated site reveals evidence that a large Mayan city thrived there in pre-classic times long before the great dynasties of Tikal, Palenque, and Copan made their debut. Monumental sculpture, architecture, and a sophisticated hydraulic system have already been discovered, but what makes the site significant is its location, early dates, and cultural remains.