Anabel has successfully lobbied for the preservation of the 2,000-hectare site of her archaeological discovery, El Pilar, a reserve spanning the Guatemala-Belize border. Studying settlement patterns of the ancient Maya who populated the area, she has developed a model for conservation that recovers and teaches the lessons from ancient farmers.
El Pilar — and life in the “forest garden” — has captivated Ford since 1983, two years after she began as a researcher at the MesoAmerican Research Center at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she received her Ph.D. Her Rolex Award in 2000 lent authority to the project, aiding her effort to implement her master plan for the site.
Her vision is to acknowledge the skilled managers of the Maya forest. The “living museum” of El Pilar perpetuates this knowledge and promotes biodiversity. She hopes to inspire the people of Guatemala and Belize to embrace El Pilar as a “bi-national” peace park.
Ford is now the director of the ISBER/MesoAmerican Research Center and president of Exploring Solutions Past: the Maya Forest Alliance.
Published in 2012