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The El Yunque Rainforest and Puerto Rico's' Forests. rain forest pool.

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Giant Tree ferns are prevalent in the rainforest


PUERTO RICOS' FORESTS Adapted from the 'Forest Legacy' proposal written by the Department of Natural Resources of the Government of Puerto Rico.

The true subtropical 'Rain forest' occupies very little area in Puerto Rico, only a single, crescent shaped, band on the windward side of the El Yunque mountains. It lies wholly within the National Forest Reserve. This life zone is characterized by an annual total of 3,400 mm of rain. Its' main features are the Sierra Palms and a superabundance of epiphytes. Photos of the giant tree ferns, Icacos River dam and a hiker.

Rainforest pictures of the Dwarf forest and the Palm forest

The 'Dwarf forest' is located at the top of the rainforest on the windward slopes and has an even greater abundance of palms, ferns and epiphytes, and rain. In the dwarf cloud forest much of the vegetation on the exposed ridges has a windswept appearance. This forest is an invaluable biological curiosity, it represents an environmental extreme and, as such, is an excellent and fascinating opportunity to see the response of natural ecosystems to environmental stress. The dwarf forest is habitat for moss, orchids, bromeliads and other epiphytic plants covering available surfaces. The trees are small with twisted trunks and small thick leaves with roots that grow over the surface of the ground. Several hiking trails lead up to the dwarf forest, such as the Mt. Britton trail. The dwarf forest can only be accessed from the north side of the Forest.


Guaraguao or Red Tailed Hawk and chick

'Guaraguao' and chick. (Red tailed Hawk) Nesting in the mountains of Puerto Rico. (shown at left) Photo courtesy of the US Forest Service.

The Puerto Rican Parrot (Amazona vitatta) pictured below. (about 12 inches, bright green with blue primary wing feathers) is one of the ten most endangered species of birds in the world.


There are about 85 Puerto Rican Parrots birds left and they are all in the El Yunque rainforest and in the Rio Abajo Parrot program. The Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery program has had some success in increasing their numbers. There were only 20 birds left in 1989 after Hurricane Hugo. Bird watching.


 

Right: Puerto Rican Parrots, few people ever get to see these rare birds in the forest.Parrot Recory Program Website.

The Caribbean National Forest Service website.

Caribbean Forest Luquillo Experimental Forest.

Puerto Rican Parrot is an endangered species
These Lobster Claws or Heliconia are one of the two similar heliconias endemic to the rainforest.. Fairly common. They will adapt and thrive anywhere in Puerto Rico that has sufficient moisture. Often found naturally near a stream. The other endemic heliconia has greenish edges, instead of red.
Heliconias are a rain forest flower . These are native to Puerto Rico


Just below the rain forest is the subtropical 'Wet forest'. This forest is characterized by open crowned trees and is also called the 'Colorado Forest' for the abundance of Cyrilla racemiflora, a large, reddish barked canopy tree. This type of forest also occurs up to the summit of other mountains above 3,000 feet. Toro Negro Forest and Guilarte Forest Reserves are subtropical wet forest as is El Yunque just below the rain forest. Toro Negro and Guilarte Forests both have higher elevations than El Yunque and enjoy even cooler temperatures. Toro Negro is, perhaps, a better place to camp (read information on the camping page). Just below the subtropical wet forest lies the lower wet forest or the 'Tabanuco' forest; below this classification lies the subtropical 'Moist forest' zone which categorizes most of Puerto Rico.

'San Pedrito' ( little Saint Peter') is the local name for this tody that lives throughout Puerto Rico. If you hear the chirp of one, you can be sure there is another one close by. They flit through the forests in pairs. Very tiny, they make their nests in holes dug into steep dirt banks.
San Pedrito or tody


US fish and wildlife determines the Puerto Rican broad-winged hawk (Buteo platypterus brunnescens) and the Puerto Rican sharp-shinned hawk or Halcon de Sierra (Accipiter striatus venator) (below, young adult) to be endangered. EFFECTIVE DATE: October 11, 1994. More information. Detailed forest explanation by the US Government. The red tailed hawk or 'Guaraguao' is distinguished by a longer tail showing red underneath when flying.

Guaraguao

El Yunque rainforest information Hiking trails off the road


little flowers on vines in the rain forest Hibiscus flowers were planted in the rainforest

El Yunque rainforest walkway el yunque rain forest bridge at bano de oro

El Yunque pool, philodendrons

At the top of road # 191, on the north side, across the street from the Palo Colorado station and parking lies the path to this large pool. An easy walk, close to the road and parking, many paths lead off of this area, one is 11 km long.

Rainforest pool, Sierra Palms

You can no longer swim in this pool that was built between 1933 and the early 40's. It used to be the first experience of cold for many of the children of Puerto Rico. Short guided tours take off across the street on the half hour.



EL YUNQUE NATIONAL RAIN FOREST

TRAVEL GUIDE TO PUERTO RICO