Puerto Rico's Rainforest

The World Resources Institute estimates that each year 13.7 million hectares of tropical forest are cut down, with drastic consequences for biodiversity and local economic sustainability. Dr. Mark Nelson and the staff at Las Casas de la Selva are testing ways to harvest rainforest trees by mimicking nature.

The project staff cuts long, three-meter-wide slots through the forest, each line separated by 10 meters of intact rainforest, as if a canopy tree had fallen in the rainforest. They plant tree seedlings in each line, and then harvest the trees years later with minimal disturbance to the surrounding forest. Two decades of research are being evaluated to see which planting sites are working best, what crops, both hardwood, and other plants of ethnobotanical use, can be utilized and what their impact is on the surrounding forest.

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What to Expect?

Earthwatch volunteers will be trained in a variety of tasks, which may include measuring trees, counting lizards or frogs, helping to tag and identify vine species, and helping to set up new experimental plots for planting different tree and shrub species. All the while you'll be hiking through beautiful, tropical rainforest areas, sometimes climbing up steep hillsides, and sometimes following fast flowing rivers. You will also have the chance to join a night expedition into the forest to help count coqui frogs.

During your recreational time you will be able to enjoy hikes (if you still have the energy), take dips in nearby rivers, take part in some forest related craft activities, use the project library to learn more about the ecology of the area, or just relax and enjoy an area of rainforest land that very few other people have had a chance to visit. There will also be an opportunity to take a salsa dancing class and to experience the local culture and cuisine.

  • Program ID: # 2036
  • duration:
    1 to 2 Weeks
  • location:
    San Juan, PR, USA San Juan , PR
    United States
    18° 16' 12" N, 66° 2' 24" W
    Puerto Rico US
  • Fitness level:
    Moderately Fit
    Very Fit
  • Closest Airport:
    Please contact program
  • Costs From:
    $1500 to $3000
  • Program Type:
    Environmental & Wildlife Programs
    Learn Abroad
  • Click Here for More Info

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