Public policy regarding forests in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has determined that “forests are a natural and unique resource because of their ability to preserve and restore the ecological balance of the environment.” Forests are an essential heritage which will be maintained, preserved, protected, and expanded to achieve their full use and enjoyment for this generation and to be a legacy for future generations. This responsibility has been delegated to the Secretary of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources by Law Number 133 of June 1, 1975, as amended, with respect to tree canopies designated as forests. Forests were and are declared by proclamations, executive orders and legislation.
Virtually all climates present in Puerto Rico are represented in state forests, from the dry tropical forest to very humid weather. In Puerto Rico, there are 19 state forests and one federal forest.
Importance of Forests
The value of forest can be typically seen in that they:
• Conserve grounds and water.
• Are a habitat for our biodiversity.
• Represent our flora and fauna, and are their custodians.
• Provide wood products.
• Provide a healthy environment for outdoor passive recreation, for inspiration and spiritual expansion of human beings.
• Provide a natural laboratory for scientific research.
• Produce oxygen.
The activities which represent the highest risk for our forests are burning in nearby lands which go out of control and cause forest fires.
It consists of mangrove swamps and salt mines on the south coast of Puerto Rico. It has an interpretive boardwalk at Laguna El Toconal, trails, camping area, and gazebos. It may be used for educational activities, as well as rides in rowing, sailing, or motor boats. It is a kayak route.
Boquerón (787) 851-7260
It has a boardwalk. It is a refuge for wildlife, has various types of habitat: islets, mangrove swamps (islets and margin), salt mines, coast thickets, and seagrass beds. From there, you can visit the Cabo Rojo Lighthouse, Isla Ratones, and Combate Beach.
It has very humid forests of tall mountains in Sierra de Cayey. It has two recreation areas: Charco Azul and Real de Patillas, camping areas with bathrooms, and access to trails. It is a refuge for wildlife and an area for scientific research.
It has a recreation area, overnight tents, camping areas, ornamental tree nursery, trails for riding bicycles (mountain bikes), walking, and for people with disabilities. Its forest cover is an example of the karst forests in the north of the island. Its hummocks represent one of the best examples in the world for karst topography; there are also sinkholes, underground streams and caves.
Environmental studies and recreational fishing takes place there, with appropriate authorization. The forest consists of extensive mangrove swamps and sandy beaches. It is also a nature reserve.
It is not open to the public for the time being. It protects part of the hydrographic basin at Cerrillos Reservoir.
It has recreational area with gazebos, trail system (the longest in Puerto Rico, 44km), an observation tower, caves, hummocks and a good representation of karst forests in the north of the island, with rare plants from our flora. It is near Lake Guajataca and contains a great variety of endangered plants.
It has visitor center and trails for observing the xerophytic forest (thorny). It includes Gilligan’s Island and Jaboncillo beach. Scientific research on land and sea and artificial reef projects are developed there. Recognized by the United Nations as an International Biosphere Reserve. We can see the century-old common lignumvitae tree, caves, the ruins of Fortín del Caprón, and sandy beaches. This is the forest with the greatest diversity of birds and where the Puerto Rican crested toad inhabits.
It has representations of the humid forests in tall mountains. It has eucalyptus plantation and the seventh tallest peak in Puerto Rico: Pico Guillarte. It has cabins for overnight stays and a camping area. Hiking, exploring, and birding-watching are allowed.
Los Tres Pichachos (787)-724-3647
It has humid forests of tall mountains, including candlewood forest and waterfalls. These lands will be part of the Corredor Biológico del Area Central, essential for protecting the hydrographical basin of Río Toro Negro. Walks and nature observing activities are allowed.
It is the forest with the greatest variety of orchids. It has very humid forests of tall mountains over serpentine soils of high percolation. In its highest areas, the forest is covered in wild star apple (Micropholis chrysophylloides) and podocarp (Podocarpus coriaceus), the only conifer native to Puerto Rico. Walks, panoramic view-watching, bird-watching (60 species), and photographing nature are allowed. You can visit the Torre de Piedra, the freshwater fish farm and stone house. It is near the Monte de Estado, cabin.
Monte Choca (787)-724-3647
Located in Corozal, there are 237.7 acres that were designated as forests by Act No. 295 of November 21, 2003. You can see the source of rivers and streams, and multiple century-old trees (pomegranate tree).
Nacional del Caribe, El Yunque (787)-888-1151
It has Visitors Centers, booths, and multiple trails. It consists of four types of tall mountain forests, clearly defined: (1) candlewood forest, which is located in the lowest part of the mountain, (2) swamp cyrilla forest, which is the most abundant tree in the 1,900-2,900 feet area; (3) mountain palm forest, (4) dwarf forest (cloud forest), limited to the crest of the mountains. It is administered by the U. S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.
It has part of the largest mangrove swamp in Puerto Rico. It has a boardwalk, a visitor center, an area for passive recreation, booths for day trips, beaches, bays, coastal lagoons, bogs, and mangrove channels. There is turtle nesting.
There are interpretive trails, visitor center, recreation area, an indigenous ceremonial park, outdoor amphitheater, telescope for observing landscape, and young guides who interpret nature; it provides lodging for scientists. The forest is jointly administered by the community organization Casa Pueblo and DNER. It is 2,500 feet above sea level.
Río Abajo (787)-880-6557
It is the only state forest in the very humid, limestone area of Puerto Rico. It has the Jose Luis Vivaldi Aviary, where the program for recovery and release of the Puerto Rican parrot is developed. It is near the Arecibo radio telescope and Lago Dos Bocas. It has a recreation area, camping area, a system of trails and caves.
San Patricio (787)-781-4656
It is one of two urban forests in the metropolitan area. There are activities of passive recreation, education, and scientific research. It has a sidewalk for people with disabilities. It is jointly administered by Ciudadanos pro Bosque San Patricio and DNER.
It is the only forest in Puerto Rico in the humid life area on serpentine soil; a combination that produces an appearance of dry forest. It is an ecotone between humid and dry forests, which makes it unique among other state forests. It has old man palms. It has a camping area with water, bathroom, campfire, showers, courts, and cabins for overnight stays. You can visit the river.
Toro Negro (787)-867-3040
This is a high altitude and very humidity forest in the Cordillera Central mountain range. It has the Patrullas and Guineos reservoirs; Cerro Punta, Cerro Rosa, Cerro Monte Jayuya, considered the tallest peaks in Puerto Rico. It has a camping area, recreation area, a system of trails, and observation points.
Urbano del Nuevo Milenio (787)-724-3647
It the largest forested grounds in the metropolitan area. It is one of the last lungs in the metropolitan area. It includes the Botanical Garden of Puerto Rico.
This forest is located in the limestone area of the north in the municipality of Vega Alta. It has a recreation area and a trail system. It has wide caverns and deep sinkholes; it plays an important role in protecting the underground sources.
Autor: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: August 27, 2014.
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