Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico
Operating as a private, non-profit organization, the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico (Fideicomiso de Conservación de Puerto Rico) manages a number of the island’s environmentally sensitive areas, while promoting the concepts of conservation to schools and the general public through volunteer programs, reforestation projects and various community workshops and events. In this way the Conservation Trust works towards its goal of protecting and enhancing the precious natural resources of Puerto Rico.
“The right time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” While the origins of this proverb are uncertain, it nonetheless holds true, and as environmental issues continue to take center stage worldwide, the reforestation program run by the Conservation Trust takes on special significance. Following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, during which huge swathes of trees were destroyed, the need to plant trees became urgent and the Conservation Trust’s four nurseries have played a meaningful role in providing and planting new trees, particularly since 2004 when it was decided to devote its nurseries to the growing and distribution of indigenous tree species. The nurseries, which produce around 65,000 trees each year, are located at the University of Puerto Rico’s Experimental Station in Río Piedras, the San Cristóbal Canyon between Aibonito and Barranquitas, Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve in Fajardo, and the Hacienda Buena Vista in Ponce.
Citizens are also being encouraged to plant indigenous species rather than introduced species in their own gardens, and in that way protect the native flora of the island. Of the 750 different tree species found in Puerto Rico, 547 are considered to be native, having existed on the island before the arrival of European settlers. Native trees are well adapted to the climate and geographic terrain of the island, as well as providing shelter and habitats for indigenous fauna. A full list of trees native to Puerto Rico can be found on the Fideicomiso de Conservación de Puerto Rico Website.
Events and workshops run by the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico include day and night tours of Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve, tours focusing on the natural history and conservation of the San Cristóbal Canyon, birding and walks along the forest trail at Hacienda Buena Vista in Ponce, and workshops on nature’s healing plants at Las Cabezas de San Juan, to mention but a few. Tours through the nurseries in Río Piedras and Barranquitas are interesting and educational, while emphasizing that each and every person can have a positive impact on the environment, to the benefit of current and future generations of Puerto Ricans.