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The Caribbean Islands
(En español)

Canada Mexico Guatemala El Salvador Honduras Bahamas Haiti Dominican Republic Trinidad Guyana Jamaica Panama Nicaragua Colombia Costa Rica Ecuador Brazil Brazil Paraguay Peru Bolivia Bolivia Chile Africa Programs Asia and the Pacific Russia, Europe, and Eurasia Middle East
North America:
| Mexico

Bahamas | Dominican Republic | Haiti | Jamaica

Central America:
Costa Rica | El Salvador | Guatemala | Honduras | Nicaragua | Panama

South America:
Bolivia | Brazil | Chile | Colombia | Ecuador | Guyana | Paraguay | Peru | Trinidad

The Caribbean Islands encompass a wide variety of landscapes, from mountainous to coastal, including: tropical rainforests, very diverse karst forests, dry mountain and coastal ecosystems and mangrove stands bordering coastal and lower riverine areas. Ecosystem conditions parallel this range of diversity, from pristine areas in Dominica and other islands to the extremely degraded forests in Haiti. As human population and tourism increase, intensive use of natural resources for economic and rural/urban development also increases. This use has resulted in erosion, over fishing, monoculture cropping, pollution of rivers, beaches and reefs and habitat destruction. These islands also host a lively tourism industry which is an economic mainstay for inhabitants but which places significant pressure on natural resources.

Threats to the Forest
Throughout the region, areas of primary forests that represent about 3% of all remaining forests are being converted to secondary forests, resulting in a loss of unique biodiversity through habitat destruction. In addition, former forest tracts, which were once farmed and depleted of fertility, are being abandoned, thus causing erosion. Land degradation affects the agricultural potential of the land and threatens the survival of the varied fauna, including organisms in rivers and coastal areas, that these forests directly and indirectly support.

Why Does the US Forest Service Work in the Caribbean?
The US Forest Service's International Institute of Tropical Forestry, based in Puerto Rico, is a leader in tropical forest research. The work of the Institute is directly applicable to the sustainable management of tropical ecosystems, which harbor unique flora and fauna. Research spanning over 60 years in the Caribbean National Forest and other state forests in Puerto Rico has resulted in a wealth of information. Managers from the Caribbean National Forest have analyzed and applied this information to improve forest management and technology transfer to advance sustainable forest management. This information is now being shared with other organizations in the Caribbean and around the world.

More recently, research efforts have been focused towards reforestation and on ways to accelerate restoration of degraded lands in the Caribbean. Through the establishment of plantations for timber production and non-timber benefits in degraded lands, a renewable resource of forest products will be available so that the unique biodiversity in primary forests can remain undisturbed.

The US Forest Service also works closely with the US Agency for International Development's Regional Environmental Program for the Caribbean, which encompasses Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Dominica. Together, they are working on initiatives to instill Best Management Practices and fire management in forested areas. The partnership also works to encourage sustainable development of the tourism industry.

In addition to working with other government agencies, the US Forest Service collaborates with local country and international non-governmental organizations. Through a partnership with Ducks Unlimited and The Nature Conservancy, the US Forest Service provides support to a collaborative Migratory Bird Conservation Program. The program includes monitoring, habitat management, and planning for bird conservation. There are several projects throughout the Caribbean including the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago.

  • For more information about the International Institute for Tropical Forestry, click here.
  • For more information on the Caribbean National Forest, click here.

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