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Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership

Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership(en Espanol)

Under the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership Initiative (JCI), NRCS and the US Forest Service are working together to target conservation and restoration to measurably improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems where public and private lands meet to provide long-term benefits to natural resources and production. The Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership enables NRCS and FS to collaborate with agricultural producers and forest landowners to invest in conservation and restoration at a big enough scale to make a difference. Working in partnership, and at this scale, helps reduce wildfire threats, protect water quality and supply, and improve wildlife habitat for at-risk species.

El Yunque National Forest in Eastern Puerto Rico (photo courtesy of USDA Forest Service).On Jan. 14, 2021, USDA announced eight new Joint Chiefs' Initiative projects, including Puerto Rico's Ecosystem Resilience Through Conservation Practices. Project partners will work collaboratively at a landscape-scale level to increase conservation actions on private lands to improve ecosystem function and health in 22 municipalities in eastern Puerto Rico while improving economic and ecological services for local communities that were impacted by the 2017 hurricanes. The US Forest Service State and Private Forestry programs of the International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF) led agency efforts in coordinating this collaborative project.

Conservation practices will be implemented on 30 non-industrial private forest and agricultural properties to promote connectivity between private and public lands. Partners will also conserve and protect targeted species through biological corridor establishment, wildlife habitat improvement, and establishment of new populations of threatened and endangered (T&E) plant species. Furthermore, the rare native tree Eugenia haematocarpa will be propagated and planted at El Yunque National Forest to increase the current populations and improve habitat conditions. This species is currently propagated at El Yunque; continued propagation and establishment of new individuals will ensure the long-term viability of this endangered species within the National Forest. Partners will also develop outreach and restoration techniques and structured management plans with clearly defined goals to integrate wildlife conservation with ecosystem services protection (such as water quantity and soil health). Partners in this project include: International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF), US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), Para La Naturaleza, Protectores de Cuencas, Envirosurvey Inc., Centro para la Conservación del Paisaje, Sea Grant, and Distritos de Conservación de Suelos y Aguas del Suroeste.

SCT Rivera (foreground) and nursery owner Josefina Santiago (center) help farmer Angel M. Gomez (right) to load tree seedlings into his vehicle in Jayuya, PR, on July 16, 2020.The first Caribbean Area NRCS, US Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF) and US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) the Joint Chiefs’ Initiative project was a reforestation project begun in Dec. 2017 in the wake of the devastation wreaked by hurricanes Irma and Maria. Entitled “Establish biological corridors and restore ecosystem functionality after the impact of a major hurricane in the Caribbean,” the Caribbean Area's first JCI project just completed the last year of its three-year project period. Initiative priorities are to:

  • Reduce and mitigate wildfire threats to communities and landowners;
  • Protect water quality and supply for communities and industry; and
  • Improve habitat quality for at-risk or ecosystem surrogate species.

Tree delivery to Finca Rancho AA in Sabana Grande-30 Aug 2019.The initiative focused on establishing biological corridors and restoring ecosystem functionality post-hurricane in the central mountain range of western Puerto Rico. The project area includes the Río Grande de Añasco, Río Guanajibo, Río Culebrinas, Río Guajataca, Río Camuy and Río Grande de Arecibo watersheds. NRCS is working with the US Forest Service and US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) along with 10 other partners to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and soil health, mitigate wildfire threats, and improve habitat quality for at-risk species. The NRCS portion of the project allocates financial and technical assistance to eligible land and farmers from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to establish selected conservation practices on their land. Targeted practices include: multi-story cropping, silvopasture, tree/ shrub establishment, fire breaks, hedgerow planting, and windbreak/ shelterbelt establishment. Some accomplishments for this project over the past two years include:

Visit the Establish biological corridors and restore ecosystem functionality after the impact of a major hurricane in the Caribbean webpage for project details.

Endangered Puerto Rican parrot, Sharp-shinned hawk, Broad-winged hawk, and Elfin woods warbler.More Information