A brief history of Las Casas de la Selva, Patillas SE Puerto Rico

A brief history of Las Casas de la Selva, Patillas SE Puerto Rico


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Amazon Expedition 1980-1982<br />

Our sustainable forestry project was set up by the Institute of<br />

Ecotechnics after their ship, the RV Heraclitus, and crew went on an<br />

expedition up the Amazon River. That ethnobotanical expedition was<br />

initiated by Richard Evans Schultes. The crew experienced first hand the<br />

devastating effects of illegal logging and deforestation. They started<br />

looking for land to start a sustainable forestry operation as soon as they<br />

arrived in Puerto Rico. The site was determined to be Patillas, SE PR.<br />

The RV Heraclitus

Sub-tropical wet forest<br />

Elevation 600m to 350 m range<br />


1984 - 1990: 40,000 trees planted on 230 acres.<br />

2000 – present: 20,000 trees planted<br />

(Mahogany, Mahoe, & Ausubo)<br />

675 acres of the project land is left as a<br />

wilderness for watershed protection.<br />

Species include:<br />

Mahogany Swietenia aubrevilleana, Mahoe<br />

Hibsicus elatus,<br />

Ausubo Manilkara bidentata,<br />

Granadillo Buchenavia capitata,<br />

Roble Blanco Tabebuia heterophylla,<br />

Teak Tectona grandis.<br />

Thanks to Frank H. Wadsworth, and Pete<br />

Weaver for mentorship and &<br />

collaborations with UPR, IITF, DRNA,<br />

USDA and Earthwatch Institute

1999 – <strong>2023</strong> RESEARCH<br />

Thinning techniques in<br />

secondary forest<br />

Hardwood Surveys<br />

Herpetological Surveys<br />

Seedling abundance<br />

Vine Surveys<br />

Fungi Surveys<br />

Bird Surveys<br />

Ethnobotany<br />

Endangered endemic tree<br />

planting and monitoring<br />

Endangered endemic<br />

species surveys and<br />


Ongoing Propagation & Tree Planting

In 2012, we started noticing, and then discovered, that every year<br />

in Puerto Rico hundreds of trees of valuable hardwood species are<br />

cut down and discarded in landfills and dumps, or are abandoned<br />

on roadsides.<br />

We formed a new company,<br />

Puerto Rico Hardwoods, &<br />

started to collect, convert, &<br />

transform that ‘waste’ into<br />

lumber & items…

HURRICANE MARIA September 2017

2017 Hurricanes Irma & Maria<br />

devastated the project homestead

Tree nursery after Hurricane Maria

Millions of trees fell in Hurricane Maria all over Puerto Rico --<br />

the government response was to ‘crush and destroy’ it all.

Hurricane salvage<br />

We instigated a major wood<br />

salvage operation

A new industry borne out of disaster

At the forest project we continued work with with local & international<br />

volunteers, clearing debris from the hurricane.

Maintenance of our Educational<br />

Ethnobotanical Trail (since 2004)

2021 brought funding from<br />

The Association<br />

of Zoological Horticulture,<br />

through<br />

Naples Botanical Gardens, FLA<br />



Securing the conservation of endemic trees<br />

in Puerto Rico<br />

2021-<strong>2023</strong> A collaborative project with<br />

The Botanical Gardens Conservation International

Garcinia portoricensis<br />

Ravenia urbanii

HURRICANE FIONA 17 th September 2022

Preliminary Rainfall Totals for Puerto Rico & the US Virgin Islands

Arrow indicates location of our project

MAIN ROAD PR 184 suffered many landslides

17 th September 2022, Hurricane Fiona,<br />

followed by three extreme rain events in October and November

Our Forde/bridge torn<br />

from the bank. The river<br />

bed is now 5 times wider<br />

than before Fiona.

LANDSLIDE MITIGATION, a new era of planting.<br />

VETIVER Chrysopogon zizanioides

The rainforest defends itself by a beauty that makes us stop…<br />

take oath to protect her.<br />

www.eyeontherainforest.org<br />

3t <strong>Vakil</strong> 3t@eyeontherainforest.org +1787 329 7761

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