Tierras Adjuntas Model Forest, Puerto Rico
Something unique and historic has happened in Puerto Rico. For the first time ever a government has created a Model Forest through legislation.
The Model Forest Act of Puerto Rico was passed by the Puerto Rico Legislature in July 2014. The legislation creates a National Model Forest ecological corridor encompassing approximately one third of the island (390,000 acres or 157,825 ha), 20 municipalities, and interconnecting 20 protected natural areas.
Between 1999 and 2004, the Government of Puerto Rico undertook various legislative steps to protect and create connectivity between State forests. However, these initiatives failed to identify a mechanism for integrating the landscape into a broader management strategy.
In 2006, the Tierras Adjuntas Model Forest was established, in part, by the leadership of Casa Pueblo, a community based organization. The Model Forest landscape management approach, anchored in a collaborative and transparent governance model, allowed its partners to identify the social, economic and environmental values from the communities within the landscape and ultimately strengthen the plan to establish connectivity between the island’s public forests. This work led directly to the creation of the National Model Forest.
The Puerto Rican government has taken the Model Forest approach and adopted it in a very significant way. The legislation creates a powerful mechanism to implement a suite of public policies that will become a new platform for integrating environmental, economic, social and cultural development at a landscape level.
Collaborative Science: Integrating Indigenous TEK and Natural Sciences for Sustainable Resource Management and Species at Risk