In the Eye of Hurricane Maria 20 Sept 2017

On Wednesday 20th September Hurricane Maria made a direct hit on the island of Puerto Rico on the southeast shore. As a nearly Category 5 storm, with winds of 155 miles per hour, and 45 inches of rain, Maria lashed the island for longer than 30 hours. Thrity and Andrés were hunkered down in the library bunker at the project for the ten hour duration of this very violent hurricane.

Above: The Hurricane’s Path across Puerto Rico. The eye was 10 miles wide.

Las Casas de la Selva, Sustainable Forestry and Rainforest Enrichment project suffered devastating damage to trees and property within the eye of this extremely violent hurricane.

The project was still in recovery from the damage and results of Hurricane Irma which skirted the north coast of Puerto Rico on 6th September 2017.

Thrity Vakil, Project Director, has left the island two weeks after the hurricane, to raise funds for rebuilding the project.

Technical director Andrés Rúa remains on the ground at the project, and is keeping us updated on everything when he can find cell signal in the metropolitan areas of San Juan.

With the entire infrastructure of the island devastated, as of 7th October, 90% of the island’s people are without electricity or cell signal, and there are gas and diesel shortages, along with food, water, and health issues, facing the entire population of the island.

We will prevail in this very difficult time, and faced with the difficult task of asking for help.
If any of you are able to donate any funds towards getting us back on our feet, it will be very much appreciated.

The Institute of Ecotechnics, (a US 501 c 3), has set up a Las Casas Disaster Relief Fund and we are grateful for any help you can give. Go to this page to click the donate button.

Or please send a check payable to Institute of Ecotechnics with a note for Las Casas Disaster Fund. Send to: 26, Synergia Road, Santa Fe, NM, 87508.

Andrés and 3t, along with the founders of Las Casas de la Selva, the Directors of The Institute of Ecotechnics, thank you, and are eternally grateful for your support in this exceptionally difficult time.

Sustainability Award, May 2016

Puerto Rico Hardwoods Inc (PRH) is delighted to have won the prestigious 2016 EnterPRize business award for Sustainability, sponsored by Grupo Guayacán and the Aireko Foundation.

Hardwood trees that are felled by government and other agencies for public safety in Puerto Rico are currently dumped as ‘waste’ in the islands landfills. PRH rescues these trees and processes them into valuable timber for export and domestic use. PRH also harvests and sells timber from 30 year old plantations at Las Casas de la Selva, Patillas, and promotes sustainable harvesting of timber from other plantations in Puerto Rico.

PRH maintains that sustainability must start with minimizing waste and the intelligent use of local resources rather than importing timber which contributes to the devastation of forests in other countries. In the context of global increases in deforestation, PRH demonstrates long-term methods for economic utilization of previously disturbed secondary forests in Puerto Rico. This is essential in helping to reduce pressure on the exploitation of pristine rainforests elsewhere. PRH is built on a renewable and recyclable resource model and as one of the first of Puerto Rico’s hardwood distributors, believes that sustainability is much more than just a marketing device; it is a practice that ensures a healthy future for our lives and businesses.

PRH is located on the land known as Las Casas de la Selva, home to the Tropic Ventures Sustainable Forestry Project established 30 years ago by The Institute of Ecotechnics in the southern mountains adjacent to the Carite State Forest, in Patillas, Puerto Rico.

PRH was created and developed by Andrés Rúa and Thrity Vakil, also both Directors of Tropic Ventures Sustainable Forestry and Rainforest Enrichment Project. As founders of the Agroforestry Development Advisory Council (CADA), their broader vision is to promote sustainable forestry in Puerto Rico and convert unwanted trees into a valuable resource.

Here are some images from the award ceremony, 24th May 2016

Winners of Sustainability Award: Puerto Rico Hardwoods, and Crosstech
Above: L-R: Keila Lopez, Grupo Guayacan Program Manager, Andrés Rúa, CEO PR Hardwoods, 3t Vakil, President PR Hardwoods, Jose David Torres, Crosstech, Jose Humberto, Crosstech, and Francisco Uriarte, Chairman of Grupo Guayacan.

Below: All the semi-finalists on the night.

EnterPRize’s objective is to strengthen startups through a rigorous educational curriculum, mentoring and access to capital. In this 10th edition, EnterPRize broadens its offering through two phases focused on promising startups that are capable of growing locally and internationally. This new generation of entrepreneurs has the capacity of launching innovative projects with a global economic mindset and we’re proud to be part of the start of their entrepreneurial journey,” said Laura Cantero, Executive Director of Grupo Guayacán. EnterPRize seeks to identify startups and entrepreneurs with significant potential and to spur their development by providing access to the tools and resources they need to scale.

The PRH team: Alex Figueroa, Magha Garcia, Andrés Rúa, 3t Vakil, & Ricardo Valles. 2016

Grupo Guayacán, Inc. is a private sector driven non-profit organization founded in 1996 with a unique model that has coupled private equity investment with a series of programs aimed at developing, strengthening, and advancing Puerto Rico’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Aireko Foundation’s vision is that Puerto Ricans develop and sustain leading organizations and enterprising initiatives recognized in and outside Puerto Rico for their sustainability. Our mission is to promote the development of individuals, businesses and non-governmental organizations in a measurable and sustainable manner in Puerto Rico, in order to achieve positive social, economic and environmental change. We value and support education, charity, entrepreneurship and solidarity, integrated with a dynamic search for sustainability.

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.