The Lacandon Maya of Chiapas, southern Mexico, have traditionally used a long fallow rotational slash-and-burn system for maize production in small clearings within tropical forest. Although successional processes usually lead to rapid restoration of abandoned fields, the invasive fern, Pteridium aquilinium (commonly known as Bracken), can block natural succession. The Lacandon are aware of this and use the fast-growing tree Balsa (Ochroma pyramidale) to accelerate succession toward mature forest. We carried out a 12-month-long experiment in a Bracken-infested area to test the effectiveness of the Lacandon’s low-input restoration techniques. We found that we could successfully establish Balsa in plots dominated by Bracken using the Lacandon methodology. Their technique involves broadcasting large numbers of small seeds and applying traditional weeding techniques. After 12 months’ growth, Balsa reached a top height of over 6 m and basal areas of 4.1 (±0.3) m2/ha. We contrasted this low-cost traditional fallow management with more costly techniques involving transplanting Balsa seedlings and sowing directly in the experimental area. The results validated the effectiveness of the Lacandon method for directing succession and confirmed the general potential of Balsa as a facilitator in the restoration of degraded tropical forest areas.