Ecological Services in the Caribbean
Oficina de Servicios Ecológicos del Caribe -- Southeast Region
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New propagation efforts to recover a cactus in Culebra island.

Bee with head inside a leptocereus grantianus white flowerCactus Leptocereus Grantianum/Credit: Carlos Pacheco, USFWS

In 2012, the USFWS and the Fundación Mi Terruño Inc., signed a Cooperative Agreement to promote recovery of the cacti Leptocereus grantianus.  The USFWS granted $20,000 and the Fundación Mi Terruño Inc, provided $20,000.00 to aid in the recovery of the Culebra native cactus.  Leptocereus grantianus is an endangered nearly spineless cactus that can reach up to 2 meters height and 3 to 5 centimeters in diameter.  The species was listed as endangered in 1993, due to its restricted distribution and habitat destruction and modification.

To improve the status of this cactus in Culebra Island, the Leptocereus grantianus Recovery Plan calls for new self-sustaining populations within the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge.  To achieve this goal, the USFWS has been conducting various recovery activities mainly focused on education, species conservation, monitoring, propagation and reintroduction.  At this time, species abundance is estimated at around 300 individuals on five natural populations in Culebra.

The agreement with Fundación Mi Terruño ensures the necessary funding and support to build a nursery that will propagate the Leptocereus grantianus and other native plants for reforestation.  The plants will later be planted at a property owned by Culebra Resort Associates II to establish at least two self-sustainable populations of the endangered cactus.

Leptocereus grantianum cactus fruitCactus Leptocereus Grantianum/Credit: Carlos Pacheco, USFWS

Integrating an endangered plant within residential development is a conservation measure that requires a lot of time and planning, and is only possible with a solid commitment from the land owners to maintain the plants and the habitat conditions that make it possible for the species to thrive.  The project will protect three natural populations of Leptocereus grantianus already established within this property with a conservation easement to set aside for conservation remnants of native forest.  As the reforestation project progresses other flora and fauna will benefit from an improved habitat while residents of the complex will enhance the livability and enjoyment of their property.  Other listed species such as the Virgin Islands Tree Boa (Epicrates monensis granti) will also benefit from the project.  The project is expected to be fully implemented by 2016. 


 

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Last updated: January 10, 2013
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