2 1/2 years after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and the rare Pterocarpus Forest at Palmas del Mar, the rebirth of the forest has taken place, slowly, naturally. It's canopy remains severley damaged, leading to the growth of strange species. Rather than rely on nature alone, the Friends of the Forest want to deliberately plant 50 new, native trees, including the critical Pterocarpus, to spur reforestation and to spur the restoration of the canopy.
In the 2 1/2 years since Hurricane Maria devastated the rare Pterocarpus Forest at Palmas, we were able to remove tons of debris and restore the infrastucture (elevated boardwalk, missing interpretative signage, etc.) and reopen the Forest to the public. As we knew, the recovery of thousands of lost trees and habitat, left to natural regeneration could take many years, perhaps decades. In the meanwhile, the Forest has become home to invasive species that could threaten it's long-term viability.
One of the ways to avoid this tragedy is to plant native and other trees that had been a part of the ecosystem, contributing to the restoration of the habitat for flora and fauna that belong in the forest and the recovery of the vital Forest canopy -- whose loss has helped triggered the growth of the invasive species. This is how the project will help us to solve the problem. Our goal is to give Nature a helping nudge.
In the long-term, the restoration of the trees will lead to the return of some of the flora and fauna whose presence has been diminished (or seem to have disappeared), either because of the hurricane's direct impact or the long-term damage caused by the disappearance of the canopy, essential to the nature of the Pterocarpus Forest.