In a nutshell
The Puerto Rico Model Forest is a landscape management organizational structure for sustainable development and a source of key ecological services, not only for those residing within the geographic footprint of the region, but also for everyone who lives on the island of Puerto Rico.
The Model Forest and its initiatives provide a mechanism for local inhabitants to use the natural capital generated by the region’s natural resources in order to further incentivize watershed conservation. It serves as a strategic planning instrument to strengthen community organization, management and conservation processes. It constitutes a platform to generate integrated economic development, with a focus on forest landscapes, which in turn represents hope for the sustainability Puerto Rico as a whole.
The landscape covers about 153,285 ha of forest land, comprising 32 municipalities in the center-west region of the island. It encompasses 26 protected areas and more than 7000 farms and critical watersheds for the country.
The Puerto Rico Model Forest region is home to 453,700 people, distributed among 143,189 households (according to the American Community Survey, 2013), representing approximately 8% of the country’s population. Fifty-four percent of households located within the Model Forest area of influence (77,032) live under the poverty line. Three of out the five municipalities with the highest child and youth poverty levels in the country (more than 70% of young people under the poverty line), are located within the Model Forest (Ciales, 73%; Lajas, 72%; Maricao, 75%). Municipalities located in the center of the island report the highest rates of poverty and food insecurity, with less access to educational opportunities and high unemployment.
The Model Forest has 77 communities with rural community aqueducts. These communities are geographic isolated and have an ageing population.
Puerto Rico Model Forest governance resides in the Puerto Rico Model Forest Multisectoral Board, a non-profit organization made up of a network of community-based organizations with broad participation and voluntary representation from various sectors coexisting within and outside of the Model Forest footprint. This alliance is comprised of 35 agricultural, community, environmental and academic organizations working for sustainability.
To guarantee the economic sustainability of the Model Forest’s programming, the Puerto Rico Model Forest Trust was established, a permanent, non-profit legal entity created to receive and manage the financial resources needed to develop Model Forest plans and goals formulated and approved by the Multisectorial Board.
- Promote knowledge exchange and strengthen community organization capacities;
- Foster landscape management and conservation;
- Promote sustainable economic development.
Key actions in place to reach these goals:
- Providing technical assistance to communities managing rural community aqueducts;
- Promoting agroecology as a climate change mitigation strategy;
- Training rural women in the fundamentals of solar power.
- An inventory of 500 communities and organizations located inside the Model Forest footprint;
- Training 250 people in management, administration, and sustainable agricultural development;
- Granting 10 scholarships for environmental interpreter certifications to strengthen community-based ecotourism initiatives in Morovis and Arecibo;
- Local capacity building in five communities that manage rural aqueducts, to meet their infrastructure and organizational needs;
- Graduating 13 women from the Model Forest from the course “Fundamentals of renewable energy,” where they acquired the skills necessary to install and maintain photovoltaic solar panel systems. Three of them were subsequently hired as solar consultants by the Mountain Hydroelectric Cooperative;
- Developing 3 community gardens in the Model Forest area of influence.
Learn more about Puerto Rico National Model Forest :
Puerto Rico Model Forest Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BosqueModeloPR/
https://bosquemodelopr.org/category/comunicados-de-prensa/ (press release in Spanish)
Estudiantes de Sostenibilidad Energética Instalarán Bomba Solar en Acueducto Comunitario (news item in Spanish)
Mujeres hacen brillar a Maricao (News item in Spanish)
Solidario con la gente desplazada por los sismos en el Bosque Modelo Puerto Rico (news item in Spanish)