Natural resources influence every aspect of life in Puerto Rico. Natural resources and parks are important to public health and well-being and to the economy. They are so integrated into daily life that their criticality to the functioning of society is not always apparent.
Puerto Rico's coastal resources, forests, and species are rich in biodiversity and international significance and generate economic value for tourism, agriculture, education, and the ocean economy. Ecosystem services, such as coastal protection from storms, air and water purification, stormwater control, and soil stabilization, provide substantial benefits to residents and visitors.
The hurricanes stressed and destroyed significant areas on land and at sea, many of which were already strained from human interference and weak enforcement of environmental laws. The hurricanes' full effects will not be known for years. Parks experienced substantial damage, large amounts of debris were generated, and landfills and are nearing capacity.
This report presents a socioecological system framework for recovery planning, information on observed damage, and 25 courses of action (COAs) for restoring coastal resources, forests, and species; controlling sedimentation and water quality; managing solid waste; renewing parks; and improving the economic opportunities such as alternative tourism. The COAs are grounded in known hurricane-caused damage to natural resources, landfills, and parks; informed by previous plans and natural resource management activities in Puerto Rico; and derived from accepted ecological and best management practices. These COAs focus on restoring sites that have high ecological and economic value and building networks of stakeholder and foundational capacity to create a more resilient Puerto Rico.