Since 2000, the team at Las Casas de la Selva has been honored to work with volunteers from all over the world thanks to the sponsorship of The Earthwatch Institute. We greatly appreciate the decision that volunteers make to come here and help us accomplish our goals towards sustainable management of this forest. With the data we have been gathering we are able to evaluate the needs and direction of further studies, and implement relevant strategies and land and timber management plans.

Puerto Rico is currently approximately 57% forested, mostly by young secondary forest. The period of economic and cultural change from the 1950s to 1990 in Puerto Rico is seen as proportionally resulting in the largest event of forest recovery anywhere in the world.  It is crucial that we understand the ecology of this type of forest, if we are to utilize its timber and other forest products in economically and ecologically viable ways. This project increasingly becomes a living demonstration in new models for approaches to forest management in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

With the challenge of our terrain, climate, and steep (often muddy) slopes, it has been a joy to see so many volunteers overcome personal difficulties, and really open themselves to the joy of the outdoor life. Many volunteers have changed the course of their studies or careers after experiencing life and work with us in this stunning, edifying landscape.We have enjoyed the company of all who have trekked through the forest with us, identifying, collecting, and measuring, and equally enjoyed homestead social interactions at the end of a long day. Thank you for involving yourselves in learning about our biosphere with us.

On an Earthwatch Expedition in the Puerto Rico Rainforest: Earthwatch volunteers will be trained in a variety of tasks, which may include measuring trees, counting and identifying lizards or frogs, helping to tag and identify vine species, and helping to set up new experimental plots for planting different tree and shrub species. You will be in beautiful, tropical rainforest areas, sometimes climbing up steep hillsides, and sometimes following fast flowing rivers. You may also have the chance to join a night expedition into the forest to help count coqui frogs. During your recreational time you will be able to enjoy hikes, take dips in nearby rivers, take part in some forest related craft activities, use the project library to learn more about the ecology of the area, or just relax and enjoy an area of rainforest land that very few other people have had a chance to visit. There will also be an opportunity to take a salsa dancing class and to experience the local culture and cuisine.

Principal Investigators for Earthwatch Expeditions at Las Casas de la Selva since 2000: Dr. Mark Nelson, Sally Silverstone, Dr. Patricia A. Burrowes, Dr. Rafael L. Joglar,  Thrity J. Vakil, Molly Robertson, Norman Greenhawk, Patricia Boyko, Jimena Forero, & Marta Edgar.

Previous and current advisors and mentors: John P. Allen (Global Ecotechnics), William F. Dempster (Global Ecotechnics), Frank H. Wadsworth, Peter L. Weaver (IITF), Jess Zimmerman (Luquillo LTER, UPR), Pedro Acevedo-Rodriguez, (Smithsonian), D. Jean Lodge, (US Forest Service), Joe M. Wunderle (IITF), Jill Thompson, (El Verde Field Station).

Earthwatch Field Reports

2004 (PDF 25.5KB)
2006 (PDF 93.6KB)
2007 (PDF 41.7KB)
2008 (PDF 265.0KB)
2009 (PDF 998.4KB)
2010 (PDF 1.26MB)
2011 (624.0KB)

Research 2000 -2010

On-going Scientific Objectives: 2010 and beyond

See more on Earthwatch Institute website about how to participate in a scientific expedition in the rainforest.

Earthwatch Teams Gallery

An archive of images on the fungi of Las Casas de la Selva: an  educational reference and handy guide.

See presentations by  Earthwatchers