Student Grant Reports - Trip to Puerto Rico

Allegra Lovejoy Wiprud, School of Forestry & Environmental Science

I spent ten days in Puerto Rico in January 2019 to understand how farmers of various types were approaching climate adaptation. I met with five farmers from the eastern, central, and western parts of the island. The adaptation and resilience methods chosen by farmers varied based on type of farm, the farm’s labor and financial resources, and the existing conditions of the farm.

For example, the farms with an agroforestry model experience minimal damage during rainy seasons, droughts, and severe storms, in part due to their water management strategies, erosion control strategies, food and water self-sufficiency, and on-farm resource availability. For the most part, their current adaptation and resilience strategies focus on increased resilience of structures as well as increased food storage and energy self-sufficiency. They did not report additional efforts in farm management towards adaptation.

Farms that were in conditions prone to damage (such as non-stabilized soils in the Eastern and Western mountains) deal with landslides and down trees during severe storms and rainy seasons. They continue to focus on recovery efforts 15 months after Hurricane Maria including replanting trees and other crops, collecting down wood, and repairing buildings and roads, or in the case of one farmer interviewed, relocating entirely. They express interest in additional water management and erosion control techniques, but all expressed a limitation of capacity to research these methods, let alone implement them, due to continued recovery efforts.



Type of Farm

Primary Adaptation

Las Casas de la Selva

Southeast, mountains (Patillas)

2000 acres timber & forestry research

Collecting down wood; fortifying buildings


West, mountains (Las Marias)

15 acres agroforestry, education center

No additional adaptations

Los Marianos

West, mountains (Las Marias)

12 acres coffee, farinacios


Desde mi huerto

West, coastal (Isabela; formerly Patillas)

4 acres seed farm

Relocated farm; install solar panels

Finca Tierra

Northeast, mountains (Puerto Viejo)

9 acres agroforestry, education center

No additional adaptations

Plenitud, a farm that is also an educational center, reported significantly increased interest in its resilient natural building workshops and agroforestry workshops. Approximately 25% of attendees in the former said they had lost their homes during Hurricane Maria, and more than 50% of attendees in the latter said they had experienced landslides and crop loss during that storm or other storms.

I plan to use this research as the basis of an independent study on climate adaptation in wet-tropical farms.