The Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico announced today the creation of a new unit for the organization, Para la Naturaleza, which is focused on securing the protection of 33 percent of the land in Puerto Rico by the year 2033. From this point forward, the educational offerings, volunteer and Citizen Science projects, as well as the management of all natural areas and fundraising initiatives of the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico, will all be grouped under this new unit.
Para la Naturaleza will also have as its goal the education, transformation and involvement of citizenry and other organizations in order to achieve the conservation of 33 percent of the islands of Puerto Rico by the year 2033. For this purpose, it will work in close collaboration with environmental groups, communities, the private sector, and government in promoting an increase in land acquisitions, donations and conservation easements on the part of organizations throughout Puerto Rico.
“At the moment, Puerto Rico legally protects only eight percent of its surface, which puts us in the lowest tier of conservation percentages worldwide, which vary from six percent to 45 percent. If we want to secure a healthy and sustainable Puerto Rico on the long run, we must unite forces to protect the ecosystems that are essential for our future”, explained Fernando Lloveras San Miguel, Esq., Executive Director of the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico, and who will also be directing the new unit, Para la Naturaleza.
“For more than 40 years, the Conservation Trust has been expanding its role as a leader in conservation in Puerto Rico, evolving from an organization focused on conserving land of high ecological value, to one oriented to encouraging citizens and their communities towards sustainable development, through educational offerings, volunteer programs and advancement of public policy. Para la Naturaleza marks a new stage in our development, and from this point on it will be our new platform to promote and facilitate citizen participation in favor of protecting our natural areas,” added Lloveras-San Miguel.
He explained that the 33 percent parameter is equivalent to one-third of the land in Puerto Rico, which is the average that has been determined as most suitable to assure the subsistence of the functional ecosystems needed for its future wellbeing. “After reaching this point, Puerto Rico could designate an additional 33 percent of land for open spaces and agricultural use, leaving the other third for development and high intensity use. In the United States, for example, the conservation rate is 25 percent, while in Costa Rica it’s 34 percent and in the Dominican Republic it’s 42 percent,” said the Executive Director.
The launch of the new unit Para la Naturaleza comes along with a massive communications effort directed not only to creating awareness about the new unit, but also towards creating strategies and public education campaigns that can push people into making concrete actions to achieve that 33 percent. To this, Lloveras San Miguel added that, “we need conservation to become the cause of all the people of Puerto Rico. The goal of 33 percent is ambitious and the only way to achieve it is creating firm and long-lasting alliances with every sector. It’s not about having only one entity acquiring all the lands, but of putting the tools of conservation more directly in the hands of each person and each community.”
Para la Naturaleza will manage all natural areas of the Conservation Trust, including Hacienda Buena Vista in Ponce, Hacienda la Esperanza in Manatí, and Cabezas de San Juan in Fajardo, among others. The Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico will continue to exist at the center of the organization and will go on to serve as a traditional land trust, keeping the titles of all the lands it protects. The only beneficiary of the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico and its new unit Para la Naturaleza are the people of Puerto Rico.