Nov 16, 2020

An Inspiring and Beautiful Symbol of Hope, Recovery and Renewal

Since mid-June, when the Forest reopened after Puerto Rico’s first Covid-19 lockdown, visitors have returned in large numbers to the Forest. Our Forest Tour Application app project, however, has been the primary focus of our efforts, as this project has been amply delayed by Covid and other factors. It is now about to launch.

The focus on completing the Tour App, and the shortfall in revenues from the "Help us help Nature" campaign contributed to the project’s being on hold, as we last reported.

In terms of revenues, we received one – though major – donation of $1,000 toward our $10,000 goal. But that amount is not enough to make the purchase and planting of new trees as cost-effective and efficient as possible.

Our decision has been to revitalize and re-energize the project and to reconfigure it from a promotional perspective. It will soon be announced as object of the Forest’s “Giving Tuesday 2020” campaign with GlobalGiving and #GivingTuesday Puerto Rico. The core project remains the same, with an emphasis on how the the renaissance of the Forest after María can and should inspire us in these times of turmoil.  Contributing to the Forest tree planting project is investing in a beautiful, bountiful future.

As Puerto Rico, like many states and countries, is seeing a worrisome, recent uptick in Covid cases and hospitalizations, we believe that Help us help Nature restore the Pterocarpus Forest can be a truly inspiring and motivational campaign. What better symbol of hope than a renascent Pterocarpus Forest – a survivor of Hurricanes María and Irma – that can serve as an inspiration to our visitors, and a beautiful symbol of hope, recovery and renewal in these trying times.

Oct 27, 2020

The Pterocarpus Forest Tour App has been completed and will soon be rolled out!

An ubiquitous invasive species
An ubiquitous invasive species

The Forest Tour App has been completed! The bilingual App with 20 informative, entertaining and enchanting audio and visual components – each tied to a “station stop” within the Forest -- will soon be formally announced and made available to the visiting public. Downloadable for both Android and Apple (iOS) phones, the App is one of the few of its kind in Puerto Rico, allowing for the kind of educational tour usually reserved for art museums and medieval cathedrals – not forest preserves.

The 20 stops, mostly along the Forest’s 3/4-mile, elevated internal boardwalk, highlight the Forest’s flora and fauna, including native and invasive species, the impact of the natural disasters on this unique ecosystem, and other sights and sounds of the Forest, among other facts and items of interest. The stops are identifiable by new, colorful, bilingual signs and the tour is facilitated by well-placed directional symbols.

The week of October 26, the App developers made a final on-site check of the Application, the signage and Wi-Fi signal strength to insure a flawless visitor experience. Members of the Friends of the Forest Board of Directors have since been invited to take the initial tours using the App (due to Covid restrictions, a previously planned, celebratory group activity has been postponed until the spring 2021). Finally, the existence of the App, its availability in the Google and Apple stores, and a welcome to the new Forest experience will be announced in the media, in mid-November.

In the pictures that accompany this report, some of the visuals within the App that visitors are asked to identify in nature are included.

The App is a dynamic educational tool, so that one can expect constant improvements and changes to reflect advances in technology as well as natural change within and around the Pterocarpus swamp Forest.

We look forward to the launch and seeing the public make good use of this new educational technology -- and thank our friends and supporters for their assistance in making the Forest Tour App a reality.

The rare Ortegon in bloom
The rare Ortegon in bloom
The Plecos
The Plecos
A terminte nest high up in the trees
A terminte nest high up in the trees
Great Forest Swamp Fern Bud
Great Forest Swamp Fern Bud


Jul 17, 2020

Stalled by Covid-19 Lockdown and shortfall

Our timing for the tree planting campaign perhaps couldn’t have been worse.

On March 15th Puerto Rico became one of the first jurisdictions to go into a near-total lockdown to avoid the spread of the Corona virus, with the governor ordering most businesses on the island to shut down and imposing a curfew from 7pm to 5am.

The Forest, the offices and all of the businesses with which we had dealings were closed, a situation that continued for three months. Our Board has been unable to meet physically as well; communication has been online but no formal meetings have been conducted.

Since a gradual reopening began on June 15th, the Forest has reopened, and visitors have come back. However, employees of contractors on the grounds of Palmas del Mar, where the Forest is located, recently came down with Covid, leading to increased security measures to avoid the spread at Palmas, particularly with respect to contract work.

In terms of revenues, we had hoped to have raised enough funds by now to make the purchase and planting of new trees cost-effective. Covid and the shortfall in revenues for the project, have placed the project effectively and temporarily “on hold”.

As Puerto Rico rebounds from Covid (although, like many states, we’ve seen a veery worrisome recent uptick in cases and hospitalizations), we expect a return to normalcy to eventually take place. However, fundraising to keep our GlobalGiving project on track in these times is more challenging than ever and will require new, primarily virtual initiatives and a reconfigured case for support. We will be working on that, remotely and in person, in the next few weeks.

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