Support of Land Conservation in Puerto Rico
By Carl Kruse
I am delighted to share with you news from my friend Maria Celeste Arraras who is involved in preserving the natural and historic charms of Puerto Rico, and in promoting sustainable development and ecotourism on the Island. Mari’s efforts focus on an organization called Para la Naturaleza, a dynamic non-profit organization dedicated to environmental conservation and historic preservation.
Para la Naturaleza seeks to transform the future development of Puerto Rico by insuring that 33% of the island’s most valuable lands are protected by 2033. For almost five decades, the Para la Naturaleza team has worked tirelessly on behalf of the environment of the Islands of Puerto Rico and, thanks to their hard work 31,000 acres of precious, ecologically valuable lands are now protected; conservation has risen from a 8% to 16% over the last few years, getting closer to the 33% goal in 2033; more than 80,000 people – young and old – actively participate annually in its educational and citizen scientist programs; and, over 16,000 volunteers work hand in hand to keep Puerto Rico’s environment healthy. Moreover, the first land-use plan in the history of Puerto Rico, long promoted by Para la Naturaleza, was adopted in 2015.
In addition to its invaluable environmental work, Para la Naturaleza has restored and made available to the public six sites, from the 18th and 19th centuries, rich with Island history and culture.
Mari recently visited one of these sites, Hacienda La Esperanza, in the town of Manatí, a former sugar plantation and now a 2,137-acre natural protected area, one of more than 40 natural areas, managed by this organization throughout Puerto Rico, which combines the environmental, the historical and cultural. The ruins and restored manor house at La Esperanza, brings to light the roles that sugar — and slavery — played in the Puerto Rico’s history and economy. La Esperanza is also home to the world’s only remaining, working, steam sugar mill.
Mari has joined her efforts with the recently created Group 33 – a group that brings together people committed to helping Puerto Rico reach the goal of 33% of protected lands by 2033. This group believes in the conservation of cultural identity, through historic preservation and ecological conservation.
As part of Mari’s commitment to and support of Para la Naturaleza, she will be hosting a reception and silent auction at her home to raise funds for Para La Naturaleza on Thursday, February 9, 2017. For further details please see:
Thank you for your support.
For another project helping the environment in the Caribbean and Southern Florida please check out the Carl Kruse blog post on the Urban Paradise Guild.