We are a center for excellence where creativity and accomplishments result in timely products and services that anticipate te needs of society as it mitigates and adapts to environmental change.
Our mission is to develop and disseminate scientifically based knowledge that contributes to the conservation of forests, wildlife, and watersheds of the American Tropics in the context of environmental change.
The International Institute of Tropical Forestry (the Institute, or IITF) is a tropical forestry research and technology transfer institute. It is located in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico (Fig. 1), and has a long and productive history. Created in 1939 as the Tropical Forest Experiment Station in cooperation with the University of Puerto Rico, the Institute has been in operation continually for 72 years. The IITF serves as a focal point for bringing external research and educational resources to bear on issues affecting tropical forests and grasslands. Because of the high diversity of tropical landscapes and the multicultural and multilingual user base, IITF employees must have specialized knowledge and skills in several fields. Our assets include an exceptional cadre of bilingual and trilingual scientists, natural resources managers, professionals, technicians, state-of-the-art facilities, laboratories, experimental research forests, an excellent tropical forestry library, a long tradition of collaborations, and constituents who are highly supportive of our mission and programs.
- New Experimental Forests
- Description of the Institute's Facilities
- The Institute’s Headquarters building—an historical building currently under full restoration and modernization including conversion into a high performance sustainable building.
- A Forest Service National Library recently remodeled, containing major publications in English and Spanish on forestry, ecology, management, and utilization of tropical forests as well as other documents and materials related to tropical forests around the world.
- A Chemistry Laboratory focusing on analytical chemistry of plant tissues, water, soils, and air. In a typical year, about 50,000 analyses on samples collected from tropical ecosystems around the world are completed by laboratory personnel.
- A Remote Sensing Laboratory to study landscape ecology using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing, and field studies. This laboratory develops information, methods, and products using spatial data and analyses at multiple scales, which are made available through maps, publications, and training.
- A technology transfer conference center with capabilities for multiple use combinations for meetings, trainings, and conferences. This facility has a food serving area and accessible restrooms.
- A multipurpose building that houses a dormitory, a gym, general storage area, office space, and lunch area.
- An area for sample preparation and long-term storage of samples.
- Three back-up generators to ensure that electrical power is available for continuous operation during power blackouts, and a 3,400-gallon potable water tank that can provide drinking water during water shortages.
- Sabana Field Station
- Administrative building housing all administrative support;
- Laboratory building for water analyses;
- Storage building;
- Back-up generator to ensure that electrical power is available for continuous operation during power blackout, and two potable water tanks that can provide drinking water during water shortages;
- Office building for scientists and technicians;
- Communications and physical security building;
- Multipurpose building that includes office space, laboratory space, oven room, sample preparation room, storage areas, laundry room, and flammable storage area;
- Dormitory building, with restrooms, kitchen, living and balcony areas; and
- Mycology laboratory.
On June 30, 2010, the Institute became the custodian of two new properties transferred from the USDA Farm Service Administration. These properties are now known as the Guayama Experimental Forest and the Manatí Experimental Forest. The Guayama Experimental Forest is located on the south side of Puerto Rico where the Guayama, Cayey, and Salinas municipalities meet (Fig. 2). This property has an area of approximately 141 hectares with steep topography which translates to diverse vegetation in the area. Quebrada del Palo crosses the Guayama Experimental Forest from east to west. There are several intermittent streams that feed Quebrada del Palo inside this experimental forest. The property has a small network of old, unpaved farm roads that provide access from its east side. The internal unpaved roads will be useful for supporting future research programs at this experimental forest. There is also an unpaved road north of the property through Cayey that provides access to the Guayama Experimental Forest. The property is currently being surveyed, and a gate and fence were installed to control the main access. The Manatí Experimental Forest is a 27-hectare property located along the boundary of the Manatí and Florida municipalities. The property is located in the northern part of the island’s karsts area (Fig. 3). Surveys of this area will be scheduled once the Guayama Experimental Forest survey work is complete. We have not explored this property but aerial and satellite photos show closed secondary forest cover. This land will provide a location to study secondary moist forest on karst in contrast with karstic dry forests in Guánica and secondary forests on other substrates in the Luquillo Experimental Forest.
The Institute Headquarters has 50,000 square feet of modern, state-of-the-art facilities that are secure, functional, accessible, and which service the scientific community of the Institute and its collaborators. The Headquarters complex is located in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, and houses:
The Sabana Field Research Station is a short drive from the Bisley Long-term Ecological Research watersheds and about a 1-hour drive from the Headquarters complex in Río Piedras. The Sabana Station includes nine buildings: