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Forests 2017, 8(7), 242; https://doi.org/10.3390/f8070242

Land Use, Conservation, Forestry, and Agriculture in Puerto Rico

1
United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry, Jardín Botánico Sur, 1201 Ceiba St., Río Piedras, San Juan 00926, Puerto Rico
2
Pinchot Institute for Conservation, Western Regional Office: 721 NW 9th Ave Ste 240, Portland, OR 97209, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 June 2017 / Revised: 30 June 2017 / Accepted: 3 July 2017 / Published: 7 July 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tropical Forest Ecology and Management for the Anthropocene)
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Abstract

Global food security concerns emphasize the need for sustainable agriculture and local food production. In Puerto Rico, over 80 percent of food is imported, and local production levels have reached historical lows. Efforts to increase local food production are driven by government agencies, non-government organizations, farmers, and consumers. Integration of geographic information helps plan and balance the reinvention and invigoration of the agriculture sector while maintaining ecological services. We used simple criteria that included currently protected lands and the importance of slope and forest cover in protection from erosion to identify land well-suited for conservation, agriculture and forestry in Puerto Rico. Within these categories we assessed U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) farmland soils classification data, lands currently in agricultural production, current land cover, and current land use planning designations. We found that developed lands occupy 13 percent of Puerto Rico; lands well-suited for conservation that include protected areas, riparian buffers, lands surrounding reservoirs, wetlands, beaches, and salt flats, occupy 45 percent of Puerto Rico; potential working lands encompass 42 percent of Puerto Rico. These include lands well-suited for mechanized and non-mechanized agriculture, such as row and specialty crops, livestock, dairy, hay, pasture, and fruits, which occupy 23 percent of Puerto Rico; and areas suitable for forestry production, such as timber and non-timber products, agroforestry, and shade coffee, which occupy 19 percent of Puerto Rico. View Full-Text
Keywords: Caribbean; land use planning; tropical agriculture; tropical forests; geospatial analyses Caribbean; land use planning; tropical agriculture; tropical forests; geospatial analyses
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Gould, W.A.; Wadsworth, F.H.; Quiñones, M.; Fain, S.J.; Álvarez-Berríos, N.L. Land Use, Conservation, Forestry, and Agriculture in Puerto Rico. Forests 2017, 8, 242.

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