About us

Las Casas de la Selva

Las Casas de la Selva is the home of Tropic Ventures Sustainable Forestry & Rainforest Enrichment Project. It is located in the southern mountains adjacent to the Carite State Forest, on the island of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. Our mission is to research and demonstrate the economic use of rainforest land using methods that do not destroy the rainforest ecology. The Institute of Ecotechnics initiated this unique project in Patillas, Puerto Rico, pioneering experiments in sustainable rainforest ecology, through line-planting of valuable timber trees. Nearly 300 acres of the 1000-acre property have been planted with over 40,000 native and exotic hardwood trees with extremely promising results. 700 acres remains as a wilderness preserve for watershed protection, research and educational ecotourism. Working in cooperation with the Puerto Rican Department of Natural & Environmental Resources (DNER), the US Forest Service, and The International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF), the project is certified as a Stewardship Forest and has an approved ‘Sustainable Forestry Stewardship Management Plan’. The project is also registered as an Auxiliary Forest by the DNER. Since 2000, plantation areas are being experimentally thinned, timber sold, and scientific research is underway all over the land. ‘Ready, willing and able’ apprentices from all over the world have worked and lived here. Our motto is “learning by doing”. Tropic Ventures Research & Education Foundation was incorporated in 1998 as a non-profit in Puerto Rico to support the project’s research and education activities. The Earthwatch Institute has been a key collaborator in assisting in the scientific mission.

Management Team

The current management team of Tropic Ventures at Las Casas de la Selva are Thrity Jal Vakil, Director,  and Andrés Rúa Gonzalez, Technical Director.

Overall objectives

  • Create a sustainable forestry project that demonstrates humans’ ability to co-exist and co-evolve in the rainforest biome.
  • Create and maintain an ecotechnic site, on which a project suitable to developing potentiality is operating.
  • Create an environment conducive to participation and contemplation to understand the true history of humanity, and our home, the biosphere.
  • Create a site that attracts authentic encounters (in study, science, business, arts, travel), and contact with Historical, Contemporary, and Future life.
  • Create a site where reciprocal maintenance with all existence is practiced.

Institute of Ecotechnics

The Institute of Ecotechnics was formed in 1973 to initiate and develop the new discipline of Ecotechnics, which intends to harmonise ecology & technology by means of hands-on educational programmes and the research & development of demonstration projects and products. Global Ecotechnics owns and oversees the management of these projects, and was created in 1994 to integrate and develop a number of projects which several of its directors began in the late 1960s, aimed a developing ecological and cultural demonstration projects in various key regions of the planet – oceans, rainforest, city, savannah, desert, Mediterranean.  These key people include the inventor and cofounder of Biosphere 2, John Allen, Marie Harding, William Dempster, Mark Nelson, Kathelin Gray, Margaret Augustine, Deborah Parrish Snyder and Chili Hawes.


More on The Institute of Ecotechnics and Related Ecotechnic and Cultural Projects…