Forest products

HELP US rescue the wood from fallen trees after Hurricane Maria

Friends around the planet! Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico. All around us there are fallen trees of valuable hardwoods. We cannot allow these tree trunks to be dumped into landfill or chipped into small pieces. Help us raise the funds needed to begin the process of dealing with the situation.

The road in front of us is long and hard, but we must be responsible for our futures and create sustainable living on this small island of Puerto Rico, in every way possible. If you feel helpless right now, here is one way to help relief efforts, by helping us to save tree trunks from the debris and to mill the wood for use.

Puerto Rico Hardwoods (PRH),maintains that sustainability must start with minimization of waste, and intelligent use of local resources rather than contributing to the devastation of forests in other countries.

As many of you know, PRH was created and developed by Andrés Rúa and Thrity Vakil. As founders and former directors of the Agroforestry Development Advisory Council (CADA), Rúa and Vakil’s broader vision is to promote sustainable forestry on the island, and to reduce the vegetative waste going to landfill. They are both current Directors of Tropic Ventures Sustainable Forestry and Rainforest Enrichment Project in Patillas, Puerto Rico, established 30 years ago by The Institute of Ecotechnics.

Thank you for your support. We cannot do it without you.

14th October, 2017

April 2016 Mahoe (Hibiscus elatus) available


F65.$96.60SOLD One side (F2)few pin holes

All dimensions are in inches and all slabs are slightly larger than stated. All pieces have been planed on both sides.
Shipping is not included. We accept secure payments through Paypal.

Please include in your email to 3t@eyeontherainforest. org
1) Your shipping address.
2) Your shipping preference for a quote: Priority (8-12 days) or Standard Mail (14-18 days) .

Mahoe is the timber tree currently being harvested from 26 – 30yr old plantations at Las Casas de la Selva. Mahoe or Hibiscus elatus, (also known as “Blue Mahoe” for the characteristic coloration of its wood after milling), is a tree native to Jamaica and Cuba. A volunteer species, characteristic of open disturbed habitats and also found, due to its shade tolerance, as an understory tree in secondary forests, mahoe grows to 25 m tall and upwards of 100 cm DBH (KIMBER, 1970). It was recognized as a potentially important species for plantation and forest enrichment after a survey by Jamaican foresters (LONG, 1963 cited in KIMBER, 1970). It is an excellent wood with a rich variety of colors and attractive grain, but surprisingly, very little mahoe is currently being produced anywhere else. The first plantings in Puerto Rico were in the 1940s and it has been also been introduced to other Caribbean islands and Hawaii for evaluation. It has become naturalized in Mexico, Peru, Brazil, southern Florida and the West Indies (CHUDNOFF, 1982 cited in WEAVER, FRANCIS, n.d.)


Mahoe lumber (wood from the mill that requires no further processing) is $20.00 per board foot. Mahoe turning and carving blanks are $26.00 per board foot. Wood for sale may include some sapwood, and all ends are anchor-sealed. Mahoe can vary greatly in color from tree to tree, the blue tone does not tend to endure for many years. The wood transforms over time to shades of browns, purples, greys, and bluey-greens.


Walk-Talk-Tour 31st January 2016

We will always share news of a Walk-Talk Tour. Join our email list to stay informed of this and other events at Las Casas de la Selva.

WALK-TALK-TOUR -This tour will be in English.
9.30am-2.00pm, Sunday 31st January, 2016.
Cost: $20.00 per head includes lunch. (Children under 10 years free.)

Where: In the homestead, forest, and woodshop facilities of Sustainable Forestry Project,
Las Casas de la Selva, Patillas, Puerto Rico. Disabled facilities very limited.

Clothing: Please wear suitable shoes or boots for a forest walk. Open-toed sandals, or flip flops are not suitable at all on uneven paths and potentially muddy trails. Wear long trousers and a long-sleeved shirt. We reserve the right to refuse entry to the forest to anyone unsuitably dressed.

9.30am: Coffee and Cake, orientation
Digital presentation of the history of Las Casas de la Selva and ongoing work, and introduction to Puerto Rico Hardwoods.
11.00am: Guided Forest walk to see plantations, identify trees, understand the history of land-use, & current projects, including planting of endangered tree species.
12.30pm: Gourmet lunch with organic salad, fruit juices, tea and coffee.
1.00pm: Tour of the wood workshop, drying sheds, & projects in progress.
An opportunity to buy or order wood, or beautiful hardwood products seen at our homestead.
2.00pm: Group Photo and Finish.

Please send an email with the following info to 3t at:
• How many people?
• Dietary restrictions (meat/veg) or allergies if any.
Please ask for directions if needed.

See you here! 3t and Andres
Some of the products that will be available.

Fiesta del Arbol November 2015

This event was dedicated to forester Dr. Frank Wadsworth, and Andrés presented a plaque to celebrate his 100th birthday.

We had a table to show off some of our latest products, cheese boards, chopping boards, tostoneras, and samples of Puertorican hardwoods.

Mahoe Madness August 2015

The mahoe tree, Talipariti elatum, was planted nearly 30 years ago at Las Casas de la Selva, and we are currently thinning the mahoe plantations. This rare and beautiful wood is available in various dimensions, including very large slabs. Help support sustainable forestry in Puerto Rico by buying our wood, and sharing this info widely.

All Mahoe lumber at $20-$24 per board foot, unless otherwise stated.
Images show both side of each piece.

Please ask if you want the slabs cut smaller and/or fitted into Flat Rate mailing boxes.
A large Flat rate box to USA is $18.95
Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Boxes Size A) 23-11/16″ x 11-3/4″ x 3″ Size B)12″ x 12″ x 5-1/2″

All dimensions are bigger than the specs below and the average width is taken on tapered slabs.
Please contact us for Mahoe turning and carving blanks.

Q: 59″ x 5.5″ x 1″=2.25 board feet =$45.00
R: 65″x 5.5″ x 1″ =2.48 board feet =$49.60

I: 48″ x 8″ x 1″= 2.66bft = $47.88 (discounted for check on one end)
J: 47″ x 6.5″ x 1″= 2.12bft =$42.40
K: 57″ x 6″ x 1″ = 2.37bft =$47.40
L: 70″ x 5″ x 1″ = 2.43bft = $48.60 SOLD

H: 72″ x 8.5″ x 1.75″ = 7.43bft = $148.60 SOLD

G: 71″ x 6″ x 2.25″=6.65bft =$133.00 SOLD

F: 48″ x 12″ x 1.75″=7bft=$168.00 A real primo slab. SOLD

Students from University of PR – Department of Fine Art

In April this ebullient group of students from the Department of Fine Arts, University of Puerto Rico, arrived on a day trip to find out more about the forest plantations at Las Casas de la Selva, and to see the timber operation; the sawmill, drying shed, and workshop. Everyone was wowed by our wood collection, that we inherited from Jose Mari Mutt, and have been adding to. Eyes opened wide at the beauty of these different and relatively unknown hardwoods that Puerto Rico has. Many discussions ensued about sustainable use of forest resources, especially wood, and later all left smiling, having bought some of our wood to create their latest projects. We look forward to seeing the results soon.

Fine Artist and our Mahoe Hardwood- May 2015

Joel Kaufman of Ellicott City, MD, has created this fine intarsia piece in about 6 months, and we are honored to share it with you. The pattern was replicated from a Phillip Ratner tapestry.  There are 50 different wood species using no stains or coloring with over 400 individual pieces.  It has over 100 shims and measures 19” x 35”.

Joel: “The blue mahoe pieces are the water on both sides of the ark, the whale’s spout of water (this is where I love the varying shades of blue mahoe), the translucent pieces through the whale and the stripe on one of the people on the ark.  No other wood I could find had these various shades of blue/purple/green and it was very easy to cut, shape, sand and finish”.

Here is a link to the process:

Consejo Asesor para el Desarrollo Agro-forestal 4th March 2014

Meeting at Cyber Café, Caguas, 4th March 2014

NombreAgencia o grupo
Andrés Rúa GonzálezTropic Ventures Sustainable Forestry
Thrity VakilTropic Ventures Sustainable Forestry
Magaly FigueroaUSDA US Forest Service
Arnaldo AstacioDepartamento de Agricultura de Puerto Rico
Fernando ArroyoUSDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Christina CabreraDepartamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales de PR
Enrique SantiagoDepartamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales de PR
Lisette FasCafiesencia
Franklin RománServicio de Extensión Agrícola
Mariano RobledoBamboo Puerto Rico
Maria BenedettiBotanicultura
Daniel CabanBamboo Puerto Rico
Sheila WardMahogany for the future
Félix Aponte GonzálezDepartamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales de PR
Enrique C. Colon BurgosAutoridad de Energía Eléctrica

Images by 3t Vakil, 2014

Pines and orchids -14th September 2013

L-R: Tania Hernandez Caraballo,  3t,  Jim Ackerman, Escarlin Reyes Genao, Carmen-Iris Rodriguez, and Joel Salcedo Mejias (Pic by Andrés R♪a)

Prof. Jim Ackerman brought his students to Las Casas de la Selva to make observations on exotic orchids and pines. Our friend Carmen Iris, (second from right), studied with Jim 26 years ago. Always a pleasure to spend time with Jim and get the downloads on his current studies and forest insights.

Oh, and the puppy is the new addition to Carmen Iris and Alberto Rodriguez’ household.  An adorable pedigree German Shepherd, 2 months old, called Ninja,

Talking about wood

L-R: Mark Schofield (Ex-Editor of Fine Woodworking Magazine); Yolanda Flores (Department of Agriculture); Augusto Carvajal (Biologist); Magaly Figueroa (USDA Forest Service, IITF); Andrés Rúa (Tropic Ventures Research & Education Foundation); 3t Vakil (Tropic Ventures Sustainable Forestry Project); Connie Carpenter (US State & private Forestry, IITF); Christina Cabrera (Departmento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales, Ayudante Especial, Oficina del Secretario); Aileen Amador (Departamento de Transportación y Obras Públicas).

CADA meeting at the International Institute of Tropical Forestry, 30th August 2013.
Consejo Asesor para el Desarrollo Agroforestal de Puerto Rico

“Working towards the development of Sustainable Forestry in Puerto Rico, and the research and creation of a forest products industry and relevant markets.”

See for more info on this new council and its mission, founded in May 2013 by Andrés Rúa and 3t Vakil.

All images by 3t Vakil

May 6th 2013, meeting at Cayey University.

The Forest Products Assessment group formally became C.A.D.A. (Consejo Asesor para el Desarrolo Agro-forestal de Puerto Rico).

Back row: Andrés Rua (TVREF), Enrique Santiago Irrizary (DRNA), Augusto Carvajal (UPR Cayey), Mark Schofield (former editor of Fine Woodworking Magazine), Gerardo Hernandez (Management Official for Toro Negro State Forest), Franklin Roman (UPR Agriculture Extension Officer and Agronomist), 3t Vakil (TVREF)
Front: Jimena Forero Montanez (UPR Phd student), Christina Cabrera (Special Assistant to the Secretary, DRNA), Rosamaria Quiles (DRNA)