U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Southeast Region News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                        Vicki M. Boatwright or

January 14, 1997                                  Diana M. Hawkins



The West Indian walnut, or nogal, has been added to the Federal endangered species list, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Southeast Regional Director, Noreen K. Clough.

This large, forest tree may reach a height of 80 feet and can be found in Puerto Rico and on the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola, where it is described as "uncommon."

West Indian walnut trees are found in a single location within the central mountain area of Adjuntas in Puerto Rico. The tree bears an edible walnut, and its high-quality wood is reported to be highly prized. Because of its scarcity, harvesting the tree for its fruit or its wood is not economically viable. The species is threatened by land clearing for development and expansion of surrounding coffee plantations.

These plantation expansions pose a threat to the trees because of an increasing tendency to plant "sun coffee," which calls for the elimination of all adjacent shade trees, including the West Indian walnut.

The Fish and Wildlife Service plans to work with the Commonwealth Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and landowners to protect the species. Other anticipated recovery actions include conducting research in cooperation with universities, the Commonwealth Department of Natural Resources, and local botanical gardens to develop propagation mechanisms.

Federal listing of plant species protects plants occurring on Federal lands and requires consultation when federally authorized, funded or permitted projects may affect the species. In the absence of a Federal activity, the Endangered Species Act does not provide any greater protection to listed plants on private lands than what they already receive under State law.


Release #97-05

1997 News Releases

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