US Protects Caribbean Forest Habitat

On Dec. 1, 2005, the US government signed into law the Caribbean National Forest Act of 2005, designating nearly 4,047 hectares of the Caribbean National Forest and another site in Puerto Rico's Luquillo Experimental Forest as wilderness areas.

This designation prohibits road construction or other development, as well as motor vehicles, bicycles and timber harvesting. The protected land is 25 miles east of the capital city of San Juan, on the western side of the Luquillo mountain range. It is the United States' first tropical wilderness area and the home of the endangered Puerto Rican parrot, one of the world's 10 most endangered birds. Other endangered wildlife species found here include sharp-shinned and broad-winged hawks and the Puerto Rican boa snake.

The Caribbean National Forest is also home to 240 native tree species and several endangered plants, including the capá rosa evergreen tree and the miniature orchid.