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The Flora of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands El Yunque National Forest, located in northeast Puerto Rico

The Puerto Rican Bank consists of the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands plus the archipelago of Puerto Rico. With exception of St Croix, all islands were formed during a volcanic event in the Cretaceous Period (Meyerhoff 1933). Because of this common origin, they share many natural features.

Main threats to the native vegetation

During the 18th century, a substancial amount of land from these islands was cleared for cultivation of sugar cane, cotton, coffee or for charcoal prodution. When the trade of these commodities declined, the lands were abandoned. The primary vegetation cover in this area is seasonally dry forest and this is one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world, due to the rapid conversion of these areas for anthropogenic use. Like in the rest of the Caribbean region, the islands of the Puerto Rican and the Virgin Islands suffer a huge pressure from development related to tourism. Resorts are developed in areas with extreme fragile ecosystems where rare plants occur.

Pilosocereus royenii heavily infested with cactus mealy bug

A plant conservation task force for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

During a plant conservation workshop that took place in Mayagüez, a group of people and institutions discussed the need for a greater collaboration and communication across the Puerto Rican Bank region. The final two days of the Workshop focused on discussing the need for greater collaboration and communication across the region and the need for a regional plant conservation strategy. We also began the process of red listing endemic plants of the Puerto Rican Bank, and identified this as a key priority activity. These discussions, spearheaded by a smaller invited group of botanists from the region resulted in the formal establishment of a Task Force for Plant Conservation for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Full details of the Task Force objectives and key activities are being developed, but there was an initial consensus that the primary goal of the Task Force is Protecting and sustaining the native plant diversity of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. A web portal is being developed which will be made more widely available once established. A key priority of the Task Force is to red list the endemic flora of the region as the first step in producing a complete Red List for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Goal: Protecting and sustaining the native plant diversity of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The group has agreed a focus on vascular plants with a particular emphasis on seed plants and also ferns due to currently available resources; however, we recognise the need for broadening the scope of our focus as new collaborations emerge and experts join the group.

Plant Conservation workshop that took place in June 2012 in the University of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico

Through a collaborative network we will aim to: Collecting seeds of Ottoschulzia rhodoxylon

  • Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands Plant Conservation Task Force works to:

  • Develop and implement a plan to Red List the plants of the PR-VI Region

  • Undertake baseline data collection and floristic inventories

  • Increase ex-situ conservation through botanic gardens, arboretum, seed banks, UPRM and UVI Agriculture Experiment Stations, and native plant nurseries

  • Enable in-situ conservation and restoration ecology

  • Facilitate communication within the group and network across the Caribbean region

  • The Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands Plant Conservation Task Force was established during a Plant Conservation workshop that took place in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, in June 2012.

    You can follow us on Google Groups:

    PRVI Plant Conservation Task Force
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