El Yunque Rainforest, Puerto Rico

By Amber Pariona on April 25 2017 in Environment

Tourists enjoying the scenic beauty of the La Mina Falls in the El Yunque Rainforest​
Tourists enjoying the scenic beauty of the La Mina Falls in the El Yunque Rainforest​

6. Location Of The El Yunque National Rainforest -

The Yunque National Forest is located in Puerto Rico in the lower areas of the Sierra de Luquillo Mountains. It is made up of an area of 28,000 acres. This rainforest is the largest public land in Puerto Rico and the only tropical rainforest in the United States National Forest System.

5. History Of The El Yunque Rainforest -

The importance of this ecosystem was recognized in 1876 when the King of Spain, Alfonso XII, gave it a protected status. This makes the Yunque Rainforest one of the oldest nature reserves in the western hemisphere. Preservation efforts have continued throughout the years, although it has reduced somewhat in size. In 1903, the General Land Office (now the Bureau of Land Management) established the rainforest as the 65,950-acre Luquillo Forest Reserve. In 1906, it was reestablished as Luquillo National Forest, and its name was later changed to Caribbean National Forest in 1935. In response to the wishes of the residents of Puerto Rico, the name was again changed to the Yunque National Forest in April of 2007.

4. Climate And Landscape Of The El Yunque Rainforest -

All of Puerto Rico experiences a tropical climate. True to its name, the Yunque Rainforest receives rainfall year-round, around 240 inches in total. Because of its location in the Sierra de Luquillo Mountains, some areas within the forest reach higher elevations. The highest point is El Toro mountain which reaches 3,494 feet above sea level. The consistent rainfall and warm temperatures make this National Forest the perfect environment for plant growth. The area is filled with lush, green vegetation, rivers, and waterfalls.

3. Flora And Fauna Of The El Yunque Rainforest -

The forest has over 200 species of plants and trees growing in four distinct regions. About 23 of these species are endemic. The smallest vegetation region is the Dwarf Forest, a rare ecosystem. Located at a higher elevation, 3,000 feet, than the other areas, vegetation within the Dwarf Forest is unique. The soil here is highly acidic and retains high levels of water which affect the growth of plants. In this region, the trees and shrubs grow at a shorter height with wider trunks and fewer leaves. Common plants here are epiphytes. These plant species are able to obtain their nutrients from the air and rain, relying on bigger tree species to grow on. Other ecosystems in the Yunque Rainforest include Palo Colorado Forest, Sierra Palm Forest, and Tabonuco Forest.

This rainforest is also rich in animal life. The critically endangered Puerto Rican Amazon parrot makes its home here. The species is endemic to Puerto Rico, and there were only 30 living in Yunque Rainforest. Another population has been released in a different forest, however. The Elfin Woods Warbler also can be found here (and only one other place) at higher elevations, like the Dwarf Forest. It is a vulnerable species. Additionally, very small frogs call coquís can also be found here in abundance, about 13 different species. This frog has adapted to its surroundings and does not have webbed feet as it inhabits trees and not waterways and it lays eggs out of the water. Both characteristics are different from typical amphibians.

2. El Yunque Rainforest Tours -

Several tour companies offer tours of the forest. The best place to begin is in El Portal Rainforest Center, the visitors’ center. Here, visitors can walk along a special sidewalk located above ground, this allows people to view the treetops. Exhibits in El Portal teach visitors about the plants and animals located in Yunque Rainforest, the importance of rainforests around the world, and about conservation efforts. Tour packages typically include guided hikes and lunch.

1. Tourist Activities -

Popular tourist activities in and near the Yunque Rainforest include hiking, swimming, kayaking, climbing an observation tour, and birdwatching.

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