The link between nature and community is central to Para la Naturaleza's tireless and far reaching conservation efforts. Through workshops and events, tours of their visitor centers, and volunteer programs such as Citizen Science, they've spent years educating and actively involving people in their mission to safeguard ecologically and historically significant sites on the island.
After Hurricane Maria, Para la Naturaleza refocused its work to offer much needed services to rural communities, while simultaneously organizing a plan to reforest the island since many trees were either destroyed or damaged during the storm.
In the weeks following the hurricane, members of Para la Naturaleza visited the more than 50 green areas under the nonprofit's protection. Although some areas suffered serious damages, particularly their properties in Ponce and Manatí and their tree nursery in Barranquitas, they decided to first help the neighboring communities.
Emergency brigades cleared debris from roads and handed out emergency supplies. Now they are bringing solar powered lamps, water filters, and mosquito nets to the residents of over 30 communities. They are also working to help ecologically-conscious farmers rebuild their agricultural projects.
Simultaneously, massive efforts to replant native trees are also underway, not just in Para la Naturaleza's natural reserves but also in urban areas and around bodies of water. The goal is to plant a million trees in five years. Volunteers are also involved in beach clean ups and are rebuilding habitats for displaced species, such as bats.
"I think that ecological recovery goes hand in hand with human recovery. We're hopeful that citizens will join our efforts to reforest, restore habitats, and reintroduce species, which we'll be implementing on a massive scale with the hope that this will help with our own recovery process," expressed Fernando Lloveras San Miguel, president of Para la Naturaleza.