Las Casas de la Selva, Patillas, Puerto Rico — The World Resources Institute estimates that each year 13.7 million hectares of tropical forest are cut down, with drastic consequences for biodiversity and local economic sustainability. Dr. Mark Nelson and the staff at Las Casas de la Selva are testing ways to harvest rainforest trees by mimicking nature. The project staff cuts long, three-meter-wide slots through the forest, each line separated by 10 meters of intact rainforest, as if a canopy tree had fallen in the rainforest. They plant tree seedlings in each line, and then harvest the trees years later with minimal disturbance to the surrounding forest. Two decades of research are being evaluated to see which planting sites are working best, what crops, both hardwood, and other plants of ethnobotanical use, can be utilized and what their impact is on the surrounding forest.
Meet the Scientists
Dr. Mark Nelson
Institute of Ecotechnics
Welcome to "Las Casas de la Selva," a tropical rainforest enrichment project on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. By joining us this year, you will help assess the results of 22 years of research into the sustainable use of tropical rainforest land. The project can be physically demanding, as the site is on steep slopes and in some places the undergrowth is thick. At the end of each day, you will come home from the forest to a comfy tent, a shower, a good meal, and a magical evening listening to the coqui calling through the night.