Last week, the NACD Forestry Resource Policy Group (RPG) held its annual summer meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The group was joined by federal partners representing the U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), National Association of State Foresters, National Agroforestry Center and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as well as agency partners from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The RPG heard from Magaly Figueroa on how the Forest Service has implemented State and Private programs such as Forest Legacy, Urban and Community Forestry, Forest Stewardship and the Community Forest Program on the islands. The Forest Service is also helping to provide native plant materials for post-hurricane reforestation efforts.
Dr. Nora Álvarez-Berríos of the Caribbean Climate Hub touched on tools for sustainable agriculture and forestry. Resistant trees are part of the recovery, but species choices are limited because native tree stock is not readily available. Ivan Llerandi, Habitat Restoration Program Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office, described how his agency has worked with more than 70 landowners to help restore more than 4,000 acres and 60 miles of riparian buffers.
“Our group was thrilled with the partnership engagement at this meeting,” Forestry RPG Chairman Steve Hedstrom said. “I think they found value in the presentations and the opportunity to share ideas and network with one another.”
On Wednesday, the group toured several locations on the island. The Roig coffee plantation in Guayanilla was
devastated by hurricanes in 2017, but the family has rebuilt its crop with help from NRCS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The operation had begun a study on the effects of shade trees prior to the storm, which it plans to resume at some point in the near future.
The Rancho Doble A farm provided details for how it is using Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership project funding to implement a variety of conservation practices, including fuel breaks and riparian buffers. The farm’s teak wood crop was wiped out by the storm, resulting in a significant loss of expected future revenues. Undeterred, the family now relies on lessons learned from the hurricanes for its rebuilding efforts.
On the final stop of the tour, the Forestry RPG learned about a replanting effort in Guanica State Forest. Several agencies are helping to eradicate invasive vegetative species and replace trees that were lost due to storm damage.
The Forestry RPG held its annual business meeting on Thursday to close the week.