How Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest Responded to Hurricane Maria

The only tropical forest in the U.S. houses endangered species and sources half of the water supply for the San Juan metro area.

Source: LBM1948


Have you ever been to El Yunque National Forest?

Located in northeastern Puerto Rico, El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical forest in the United States, the home to many rare species such as the critically endangered Puerto Rican parrot, and the source of 50% of the water supply for the San Juan metro area. It also is one of the most important destinations in the Caribbean for ecotourism, hosting one million visitors and contributing $5.5 billion to the Puerto Rican economy every year. But between more severe droughts and more extreme hurricanes such as Maria, the forest is undergoing several changes that could put many of these important ecosystem services at risk. Today, we explore the significance of El Yunque, what risks hurricanes and droughts pose to the forest and nearby communities, and how the forest and island can adapt for the future. With special guest Dr. Maria Uriarte: Professor of Biology at Columbia University.

The Sweaty Penguin is presented by Peril and Promise: a public media initiative from The WNET Group in New York, reporting on the issues and solutions around climate change. You can learn more at

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Writers: Isabel Plower, Maddy Schmidt, Ethan Brown

Fact Checker: Hallie Cordingley

Editor: Frank Hernandez

Producers: Olivia Amitay, Ethan Brown, Megan Crimmins, Shannon Damiano, Frank Hernandez, Dain Kim, Caroline Koehl

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Music: Brett Sawka

The opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the host and guests. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Peril and Promise or The WNET Group.




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The Sweaty Penguin
The Sweaty Penguin is a digital news source and podcast aiming to make environmental issues less overwhelming and politicized and more accessible and fun.


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