Last spring Puerto Rico bucked a decades-long trend by protecting 3,000 acres of pristine beaches and mangroves along the Northeast Ecological Corridor.

A new law marks an unexpectedly happy ending to a 15-year battle fought by environmental activists to wrest this portion of the Caribbean island’s coast–which includes a vital nesting area for the endangered leatherback turtle–from the construction cranes of developers.

A microcosm of Puerto Rico, this swath of land encompasses all types of coastal wetlands found on the island and is home to nearly 900 other species, including ones struggling to survive such as the endangered West Indian manatee.

“Its scale of ecosystem diversity is extremely rare in any location around the world,” says Camilla Feibelman, a former field organizer for the Sierra Club, which offers tours of the region.

Day-trippers from San Juan, less than five miles to the west, already head to eastern Puerto Rico for El Yunque rain forest and the bioluminescent Fajardo lagoon. Yet the corridor is even easier to access–public bus is one option–and the recent legislation promises to encourage ecotourism in this unique habitat.

Soon travelers can expect expanding hiking and biking rails as well as the introduction of interpretive experiences, guided tours, and kayak rentals.

  • Travel Trivia: The temperature inside the nest of turtle eggs determines the sex of the hatchlings. Hotter temps produce more females.

This piece, written by Julie Schwietert Collazo, first appeared in the April 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine.

Comments

  1. jose m.aponte
    Luquillo,Puerto Rico
    March 26, 9:12 pm

    Es muy importante que una revista tan importante como esta haya hecho un reportaje de la lucha para proteger estas tierras.Y asi tambien proteger a unas de las especies en peligro de exticion el Tinglar que usan esta playas para poner sus nidos.Para que luego nazcan sus crias.Y asi siga la protecion de esta expecie milenaria.

  2. Francisco Ramos
    Puerto Rico
    March 31, 11:47 pm

    Awesome!

  3. Eliza
    April 1, 10:59 am

    Amazing! A big step in helping our world.

  4. Marilyn
    San Juan
    April 19, 9:38 am

    warms the heart for generations, not the stomach for a moment.
    Thanks for the work all the volunteers are doing.
    The world is learning too slowly.

  5. karen
    usa
    April 22, 2:04 pm

    wonderful Thank You! Puerto Rico! Show the rest of the world how to save a species! Of course all those container ships going here and there destroy seaweed beds that all these critters live in for up to 3 years or life! So every-time you support endless stuff importation know these items were shipped by giant container vessels along the same routes the seaweed beds float as well destroying them! that’s the rest of the story why support corporations when you should buy local or just stop buying go to garage sales or recycle etc help save our planet!