Punta Ballena Conservation Easement
Guánica / Yauco, Puerto Rico
The Punta Ballena Conservation Easement (PBNER-CE) protects 162.92 acres in the municipalities of Guánica and Yauco, in Puerto Rico’s Southern Region. The property is part of a larger natural protected area of international significance managed by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER): the Guánica State Forest and Nature Reserve.
Dry forests constitute half of the world’s tropical forests (Institute of Tropical Forestry [ITF] 1989), and with more than 9,000 acres, the Guánica Forest is the best example of a dry forest in the Caribbean region, the only dry forest recognized as a Biosphere Reserve in the island, and the only tropical biosphere reserve with such a large area of dry forest. The herpetofauna of this forest includes the Critically Endangered Puerto Rican crested toad (Peltophryne lemur), and the endemic blue-tailed ground lizard (Ameiva
wetmorei). The area is host to more than 700 plant species, including the Critically Endangered Woodbury’s stopper (Eugenia woodburyana), the Puerto Rico manjack (Cordia rupicola), and the endangered tree Stahlia monosperma.
The conservation of Punta Ballena sought to protect ecologically-valuable lands adjacent to the Guánica Forest that were threatened by developmental pressure. Acting as partners in the acquisition of this property in 1991, the DNER and the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico responded to a proposed large-scale resort, favoring an extensive environmental public campaign to protect this land, which started in the mid-1970s. The DNER acts as the conservation easement grantor for Punta Ballena.
On October 17, 1997, the Puerto Rico Planning Board officially designated the conservation easement’s lands as the Bahía Ballena Segment, an extension of the Guánica State Forest and Nature Reserve.