SAN JUAN — The partnership of government agencies and non-governmental organizations known as the Protected Areas Conservation Action Team (PA-CAT) released today the 2016 update of the Protected Areas Inventory of Puerto Rico. The updated inventory includes eight new terrestrial protected areas from Para La Naturaleza and two from the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources. In 2016, 1,076 hectares (2,659 acres) were added to the protected land inventory while a new marine extent added 6,490 hectares (16,036 acres) to the protected seas around Puerto Rico. These additions bring the amount of terrestrial protected areas to 16.1% and 26.7% for marine protected areas. Additionally, six area boundaries and changes in the attribute table for eight areas are included in this update. After the team updated the inventory, the Government of Puerto Rico declared the zone of Mar Chiquita in the municipality of Manatí a nature reserve; this new reserve will be included in the December 2017 update next year.
The PA-CAT was formalized in 2015 and in December of that year the first collaborative protected areas inventory and map were released. The action team plans to release a new version each year in the month of December for use by multiple agencies, organizations, and the public. No single inventory or common terminology for the different protected area designations existed prior to 2015. Despite past efforts to develop a comprehensive inventory of protected areas for the island, individual agency inventories continued to evolve with little input and in isolation from each other. By working together team members are moving towards a unified vision for protected areas in Puerto Rico. This vision should reduce the long recognized limitations in planning and monitoring of conservation effectiveness. These limitations result from the lack of standard terminology, guidelines or protocols combined with historical fragmentation and complexity of policies applied to the natural protected areas. The PA-CAT defines a Natural Protected Area as “a geographic area clearly defined and delimited through legal or other effective means for the long-term conservation of its natural resources, biodiversity, ecosystem services and associated cultural values.” On April 19, 2016 the principal entities of the team signed a collaborative agreement to coordinate efforts to develop and manage information and to provide mechanisms and protection strategies for natural protected areas and cultural resources in public and private lands in Puerto Rico.
To view the map interactively or to download the data visit:
Data can also be downloaded at the U.S. Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestry website.
|December 2016 Protected Areas Inventory|
|164||total PAs (not counting legacy areas as individual PAs)|
|3||small areas of overlap between PAs. In revision|
|9||zonas de amortiguamiento (not counted as PAs)|
|1076 ha (2659 acres)||increase in terrestrial PA land from 2015 inventory|
|6490 ha (16036 acres)||increase in marine PA extent from 2015 inventory|
|143590.09 ha (354818.85 acres)||total land protected in 2016|
|361887.17 ha (894242.67 acres)||total sea protected in 2016|
|16.1%||2016 % of terrestrial PAs|
|26.7%||2016 % of marine PAs|
Changes between the 2015 and 2016 inventories
Para La Naturaleza:
Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources:
Changes in the Boundaries
Para La Naturaleza
Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources:
Overlap Problems Corrected
Changes in the Attributes
The Protected Areas Conservation Action Team (PA-CAT) is composed of multiple partners, including Federal and State agencies, non-governmental organizations and individuals from Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands. These include, among others, the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER), Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR), International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF) of the United States Forest Service (USFS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Puerto Rico Conservation Trust and its unit Para La Naturaleza, Foundation Alma de Bahía, Bahía Beach Resort, Puerto Rico Planning Board, Foundation for Development Planning, Inc., University of the Virgin Islands, and the University of Puerto Rico. These agencies and organizations work together in an alliance called the Caribbean Landscape Conservation Cooperative.
The Dune Building and Stabilization with Vegetation Conservation Action Team (Dune-CAT) is developing a partnership with the Caballeros de Colón (Knights of Columbus) to establish a demonstration project for dune building in front of the Caballeros de Colón clubhouse in Isla Verde, Puerto Rico. The project will be used as an educational and awareness raising tool to demonstrate the best practices and procedures when creating dunes using vegetation. The site will also show how these features serve to protect against swells and mitigate erosion caused by sea level rise and more intense swells.
On March 2nd, 2016 in Isla Verde, Carolina on the north coast of Puerto Rico, a condo owners meeting was held at Hotel Verdanza. It was convened by State Representative Angel Matos, President of the Tourism Industry Development Commission. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the problem of erosion in a section of the beach. Ernesto Diaz, Director of Coastal Zone Management Office and Climate Change Council of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) and the Undersecretary of the DNER, were also at the meeting. Paco Lopez, a neighbor to the Pine Grove condos invited Pedro Gonzalez, President of the MARE Society and coordinator of the Dune-CAT. Paco spoke briefly about the importance of corals in mitigating beach erosion through the attenuation of wave energy. He also mentioned the effects on corals from sanitary effluents and sedimentation. Pedro had the opportunity to talk to neighbors very briefly about the causes of erosion and about the Dune Building and Stabilization with Vegetation Conservation Action Team (Dune-CAT) and the importance of planting vegetation on the beaches to mitigate erosion. The comments were met with a lot of interest. Many offered to support and help in the planting. Rep. Matos asked Pedro to give a formal presentation on the subject.
Carlos Homs of the Caballeros de Colón club was especially interested and asked to establish a demonstration project for the creation of dunes on the beach in front of the clubhouse. The Knights of Columbus is an international fraternal organization of Catholic men age 18 years and older who support charities throughout the parish and community. In chapter in Isla Verde is known as Caballeros de Colón Consejo San Juan Bautista 1543. A formal meeting occurred between the Caballeros de Colón and the Dune-CAT to develop the partnership.
Any individuals or organizations interested in this partnership can contact Pedro Gonzalez, President of the MARE Society, at pedro [at] maresociety [dot] org.
EPA just published a series of fact sheets, “What Climate Change Means for Your State,” which focus on the impacts of climate change in each of the 50 states and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico. These 52 fact sheets compile information from previously published synthesis and assessment reports to provide a handy reference for state and local policymakers, businesses, and individuals who are looking to communicate impacts of climate change in a given state. The fact sheets can be found at: www3.epa.gov/climatechange/impacts/state-impact-factsheets.html. Fact sheets on the Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia will be coming soon.