Puerto Rico Hardwoods gets federal subsidy for sustainability project

The new sawmill, alongside a purchased drying oven, will enable Puerto Rico Hardwoods to expand production and raise its quality levels.

Photo By Puerto Rico Hardwoods

CAGUAS, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico Hardwoods Inc. has been chosen as a recipient of a nearly $175,000 Wood Innovation Grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service division in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Forestry’s State, Private and Tribal Forestry Programs unit.

The company received the grant to purchase a state-of-the-art sawmill that will allow it to increase the production of responsibly harvested tropical wood in Puerto Rico, according to the Puerto Rico-based News is my Business (NIMB).

The new sawmill, alongside a purchased drying oven, will enable the company to expand production and raise quality levels.

“We greatly appreciate the USDA’s Forest Service for the trust and our broad community of customers and friends, who have supported us throughout these years. Thanks to them, we will be able to offer Puerto Rican wood at a more competitive price,” said Andrés Rúa, founding partner and CEO of the company.

The grant program, established in 2015, stimulates, expands and supports U.S. wood products markets and wood energy markets to support the long-term management of forest resources.

Puerto Rico Hardwoods was founded in 2015 within the framework of the Las Casa de la Selva project in Patillas, a sustainable forestry project with more than 40 years of local and international forestry scientific activity.

 Puerto Rico Hardwoods offers a variety of exotic tropical woods from Puerto Rico. The company said they are "leaders in the sustainable management and use of timber plantations in the Caribbean, and for several years we have led the rescue of timber in Puerto Rico."

Since their founding, both the company and the project have pursued the objective of developing a sustainable timber industry in Puerto Rico through sustainable forest management.

According to NIMB, the company’s project, titled “Enhancing market position of Puerto Rico Hardwoods through upgraded equipment, improved timber quality, and increased production capacity,” plans for two years of production. It aims to revitalize the local timber industry and serve as a model for others.

As part of its commitment to the community, Puerto Rico Hardwoods will conduct open houses, wood workshops and educational visits to schools and universities about forest management and products, continuing its efforts from previous years, it stated.

A second applicant from Puerto Rico, Centro para la Conservación del Paisaje, will receive a $214,000 grant to develop its “Analysis of the wood product supply chain in Puerto Rico” project, NIMB reported.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded more than $43 million to expand innovative uses of wood, including as a construction material in commercial buildings, as an energy source, and in manufacturing and processing.

Made possible in part by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, these funds are being invested in 123 projects nationwide through Community Wood Grants and Wood Innovations Grants - longstanding Forest Service grant programs that promote innovation in wood products and renewable wood energy economies. Since 2015, the Wood Innovations and Community Wood Grant programs have provided more than $93 million to 381 recipients to support wood products and wood energy projects.

“With crucial funding through the Investing in America agenda, the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to supporting the wood products and wood energy economies that are the lifeblood of so many people, especially for tribal and disadvantaged rural communities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “By building more sustainably, we are able to address the ongoing wildfire crisis and lower risks to our communities, while also creating new markets for the excess and hazardous wood we need to remove from our fire-prone western landscapes and creating jobs and wealth in rural communities along the way.”

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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).