Established in 1983, Las Casas de la Selva is the home of Tropic Ventures Sustainable Forestry & Rainforest Enrichment Project. It is located in the southern mountains of Puerto Rico, adjacent to the Carité State Forest. It is a spectacular site with steep thickly forested slopes, and beautiful rivers and waterfalls.
The Institute of Ecotechnics initiated this unique project in Patillas, Puerto Rico, pioneering experiments in sustainable rainforest ecology, through line-planting of valuable timber trees. The aim of the project is to maintain the biomass and biodiversity of the ecosystem while the land is utilized, to a degree, for enough profit to encourage local care-taking of the forest.
Using this approach, 230 acres of the 1000-acre property have been planted with over 40,000 native and exotic hardwood trees with extremely promising results, working in cooperation with the Puerto Rican Department of Natural Resources, and The International Institute of Tropical Forestry. The valuable contribution of this method to the rainforest environment has seen the project recognized as an 'auxiliary forest' in the US national park system of classification, and in 2011 the project was certified under The Sustainable Forest Stewardship Program.
In the context of global increases in deforestation, demonstrating long-term methods for economic utilization of previously disturbed secondary forests is valuable in helping reduce pressure on the economic exploitation of pristine rainforest areas globally.
Tropic Ventures holds over half the property at Las Casas de la Selva in its natural state as a rainforest preserve. This area provides a protected habitat for Puerto Rican native flora and fauna as well as a long-term study site for research. It facilitates public and student familiarization in the areas of ecology, botany, forestry, horticulture, soil, ethnobotany, herpetology, and other related environmental disciplines. Trail maintenance, soil protection, and erosion control are high priority activities, and planting trees has worked to stabilize and enrich eroded areas on the property. The property has three main watersheds which feed into Lake Patillas, the main reservoir, that supplies drinking water for a population of approximately 200,000 people in the neighboring districts. A demonstration Wastewater Garden was built on the homestead in 2004, and humanure compost toilets are also being used very successfully.
Tropic Ventures Research & Education Foundation Programs