The Guánica Biosphere Reserve in southwestern Puerto Rico comprises coastal areas with mangrove cays and subtropical dry forest. Designated Guánica State Forest in 1919, it is considered the best-preserved subtropical forest and best example of dry forest in the Caribbean.
Guánica State Forest / Guánica Biosphere Reserve
Situated in southwestern Puerto Rico, the Guánica Biosphere Reserve comprises coastal areas with several mangrove cays as well as subtropical dry forests.
The area was designated Guánica State Forest, a forest reserve, in 1919 and is considered the best-preserved subtropical forest and the best example of dry forest in the Caribbean.
The reserve is managed as a multiple-use area to achieve harmonious relationships between human activities and the maintenance of natural ecological integrity. Monitoring, research, education and training activities are encouraged to support sustainable development in this part of Puerto Rico.
Approximately half of Puerto Rico's birds and nine of sixteen endemic bird species occur here. More than 700 plant species, of which 48 are endangered and 16 are endemic to the forest, occur within the forest. The vegetation in the forest is divided into three main groups:
- upland deciduous forest (which occupies 23.5 sq km or 9.1 sq mi)
- semi-evergreen forest (7.2 sq km or 2.8 sq mi)
- scrub forest (5.8 sq km or 2.2 sq mi)
Located in the dry orographic rain shadow of the Cordillera Central, Puerto Rico's driest area, temperatures in the forest are, on average, around 27 °C (80 °F) in shaded areas and 38 °C (100 °F) in exposed areas. The average temperature is 25.3 °C (77.5 °F) and the average annual rainfall is 791 mm (31 in).
The forest encompasses almost 1,000 acres and is maintained by the Departmento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales (DRNA, or Department of Natural Resources).
The Guánica State Forest serves the recreation needs of tourists and people living in eight nearby municipalities with a total population of over 330,000 people (1982).
Of conservation concern is the large increase of visitors in coastal areas bringing developmental pressures such as residential and tourist housing projects, the expansion of the municipal landfill and loss of biological corridors.