NRCS Urges Farmers and Forest Landowners to Apply for Forestry, Wildlife Funds

Endemic Caribbean wildlife, left to right: PR lowland coqui (Eleutherodactylus juanariveroi), Elfin Woods Warbler (Setophaga angelae), Puerto Rican Tody (Todus mexicanus), Virgin Islands Tree Boa (Epicrates monensis granti), Jamaican Fruit Bat (Artibeus jamaicensis), Puerto Rican Woodpecker (Melanerpes portoricensis), and St. Croix Ground Lizard (Ameiva polops). (Submitted photo)

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is encouraging Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands farmers and forest landowners to conserve habitats for pollinators and wildlife through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program’s (EQIP) Wildlife and Forestry Initiatives. Applying conservation practices on private lands will benefit native plants and wildlife, and it will provide farmers and forest landowners with ecosystem services like pest control, soil fertility and clean water.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program’s (EQIP) targets 10% of its funding to wildlife habitat creation, restoration or enhancement. It provides financial incentives for cropland, pastureland and forestland to provide long-term benefits to natural resources and production, but clients may not be as familiar with the habitat aspect of the program. The agency’s Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) also supports wildlife and forestry conservation.

Healthy pollinators and wildlife habitat are essential for agricultural sustainability. Forest improvement is possible and can play an important role in preserving an agriculture business by increasing profit and climate change resiliency, reducing impacts from drought and windstorms.

NRCS helps farmers and landowners apply agroforestry, forestry and wildlife habitat practices like structures for wildlife, hedgerow planting, silvopasture, riparian forest buffers, wildlife habitat planting, upland and wetland wildlife habitat management, forest stand improvement, tree and shrub establishment, and multi-story cropping.

These conservation practices promote connectivity between private and public lands, restore ecosystem functionality, mitigate storm damage, and provide habitat for pollinators and critical wildlife species.