The Evolution of a Land Trust
This narrative examines the evolution of a land trust, Para la Naturaleza (PLN) in Puerto Rico, as it navigated a vast array of challenges. These challenges led Para la Naturaleza to transform itself from a traditional land trust and become an agent of ecological, economic, and social change.
Every single challenge that the organization faced in the past decade — financial, climatic, governance or pandemic — forced the board, staff team members and volunteers to engage in a deep process of introspection regarding our mission and strategies. This remarkable group of courageous individuals with highly creative minds took on the challenges without hesitation, leading PLN to profoundly change the way it understands and acts regarding the fundamental relationship between nature and people.
Para la Naturaleza is a unique land and historic trust located across the islands of Puerto Rico. In the process of evolving beyond land protection, Para la Naturaleza’s goals and decisions are geared towards decolonizing nature, and towards treating nature with the respect it deserves. This is in contrast with the more common destructive model which results in the ecological colonization of nature. Para la Naturaleza’s actions are evolving and growing stronger, yet there is much work ahead.
PLN pursues an ecological culture that will provide an ethical roadmap for the sustainable and equitable wellbeing of all living organisms. As complex as human challenges continue to be, Para la Naturaleza believes that the solutions are held within the relationships between people and nature, and that land trusts possess the ability to reformulate those relationships.
This author hopes that the life experiences of those who made have this remarkable journey possible will serve to inspire other land and historic trusts, just as they have inspired us at Para la Naturaleza over the past five decades.