This article was published on: 04/18/18 6:44 PM
As Puerto Rico struggles to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, we are helping to plant trees in El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rain forest in the US.
1. THE PEOPLE: The people of Puerto Rico need our help. El Yunque National Forest was once one of the most visited places on the island. Almost seven months later, its closure leaves a huge hole in the economy. Income tied to tourism has plummeted and unemployment—already twice the national average before the hurricane—has skyrocketed. Help rebuild Puerto Rico by re-opening El Yunque National Forest.
2. THE PARROTS: The critically endangered Puerto Rican Parrot’s only remaining natural habitat is the high trees of El Yunque National Forest. Re-establishing stable parrot habitat in the forest means survival of the species. Help plant trees to save the Puerto Rican Parrot.
3. THE IGUANAS: We like these herbivorous lizards but fewer trees means more sun and overpopulation for the iguanas. Less shade increases the temperature of the soil, giving them more places to nest. Don’t let iguanas disrupt the entire ecosystem in the forest reserve. The solution: More trees!
4. THE ORCHIDS: The spectacular Lepanthes eltoroensis orchid lives only in El Yunque National Forest’s Elfin Woods. The delicate orchid—like many endangered species that thrive in El Yunque National Forest—only grows on forest trees at an altitude of 2,789 feet or above. Stabilizing tall trees and replanting where necessary is a matter of life or death for the orchid.
5. THE PLANET: Rainforests are often called the lungs of the planet because they absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and produce oxygen upon which all animal life —including human life— depends for survival. Help save planet Earth by saving the El Yunque rainforest.
The powerful Category 4 Hurricane Maria raked across the island Sept. 20, killing at least 60 people and causing widespread damage. It was the strongest storm to hit the US territory in 89 years. In a matter of hours, about 80 percent of the crop value and 80 percent of the trees were destroyed.