Country: Puerto Rico
Location: Central zone of the country
Year joined IMFN: 2007
Area of Model Forest: 14,368 hectares
Regional affiliation: Ibero-American Model Forest Network
Forest profile and resources
The Model Forest in the “Tierras Adjuntas” spans 10 municipalities, and represents the island's largest conservation district. The area also holds six reservoirs that supply energy and potable water, and hydrographic basins of major importance for the sustainable development of the communities. It is a mountainous zone with elevations from 300 to 1360 metres above sea level, including the island’s most elevated point, Cerro Punta. In addition, this region connects 5 woodlands across a biological corridor.
The forest is dominated by secondary species and remnants of native vegetation. The predominant climate is very humid subtropical, and more than 150 species of trees are found here. Although certain parts of the woodlands have been affected by mining research and agricultural uses, recuperation of the forest has been helped by shade-grown coffee planting and by the presence of residual secondary forests. This type of residual secondary forest retains some of its natural characteristics, even though it may have been cut one or more times over the past 80 years.
The municipalities that make up the Model Forest are part of the interior west region, which is home to 5.9% of the country’s total population. It is important to point out that the TAMF zone, which is also recognized as a Puerto Rican biosphere reserve [Reserva Puertorriqueña de la Biosfera en las ‘Tierras Adjuntas’] has a low rate of migration compared to other coastal zones in Puerto Rico. In addition, this area (the interior of the island, where the TAMF is located) has the highest concentration of families below the poverty line.
Why a Model Forest?
It is important to point out that the TAMF is located in the central zone of the country, which was threatened in the 80s by the economic conflict surrounding open-pit mining, with large-scale exploitation proposals from multinational companies. The community-based resistance organized by the Casa Pueblo group (a member of the Model Forest) led to conservation of the countryside after 15 years of struggle, when the Government of Puerto Rico changed its public policy regarding mining in the zone (1995). Model Forest stakeholders believe the initiative can help continue to reduce conflict over natural resources in the area.
An active Board of Directors composed of nine members is responsible for leadership, and evaluates the progress of the community's work. The core of the working group is formed by approximately 20 partners, including scientists, technicians, artists, artisans, students and others. A wider circle of supporters includes more than 500 individuals who offer voluntary support for campaigns and specific projects. Theses members also form part of the community management council [Consejo de Manejo Comunitario], which meets annually to offer guidance on development policies for the Model Forest and other Casa Pueblo initiatives.
The seat of the Model Forest in “Tierras Adjuntas” is located in the village of Adjuntas, the managing municipality. Casa Pueblo is the community management official, in conjunction with the department of natural and environmental resources and the University of Puerto Rico at Recinto de Mayagüez.
The strategic plan has established two initial working committees: (i) technical committee and (ii) means and education committee. These two committees work in support of the directors and facilitate the dissemination of information to their respective work areas.
The practices proposed by the TAMF are designed to contribute to the retention and/or recuperation of the ecological integrity of the landscape; note that, at the institutional level, the strategy considered is to continue working according to incidence scales that depend on the project in question. From a central government to participation with representatives from each municipality that belongs to the Model Forest, whether the municipal office for environmental issues or the office that handles such matters.