Para la Naturaleza remains steadfast in its commitment to preserve Puerto Rico’s environment

August 16, 2023
Para la Naturaleza remains steadfast in its commitment to preserve Puerto Rico’s environment

Thanks to funding from programs such as the New Markets Tax Credits, Para la Naturaleza has continued its efforts to preserve Puerto Rico’s natural resources while expanding its operations.

For more than 50 years, Para la Naturaleza has fulfilled its promise to preserve and protect the natural and historical resources of our island, as well as provide educational resources that help conserve its beauty.

The non-profit organization carries out nature-focused projects that promote healthy ecosystems that provide ecological services that benefits all, such as strategic reforestation of native, endemic, and rare species, as well as providing resources for farmers interested in adopting a restorative agricultural model. Para la Naturaleza also engages in cultural workshops, guided hikes, and conservation of historic structures and the biodiversity present in Puerto Rico.

montaje de fotos sobre fauna y flora puertorriqueña / Photo collage about Puerto Rico Biodiversity

It is thanks to programs such as the New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC), through Popular Community Capital, a subsidiary of Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, that Para la Naturaleza has been able to continue its work as environmental conservationists in Puerto Rico.

“When industries and individuals have the economic capacity to benefit from a program like this, what better way to do so than in activities and initiatives that have a proven benefit for our island and our resources,” said Neida Pumarejo-Cintrón, Para la Naturaleza’s Land Conservation Director and Legal Counsel.

The NMTC program was established by the U.S. Congress to encourage private investors to enter disadvantaged communities and promote business growth and economic development in those areas. Since its inception, nearly 11,000 businesses in the United States and Puerto Rico have been able to reduce the capital cost of their projects by 15-20% and impact low-income communities through the program.

It is estimated that for every dollar of federal money invested in these projects, $8.00 of private capital is attracted.

Para la Naturaleza secured an allocation through Popular Community Capital of $10 million, which has been used to offer a variety of ecotourism-based educational services and to build resilience and increase the sustainability of their organization and the communities they serve following the impact of Hurricane María.

“One of the things we committed to achieve with the financing was to increase our employee workforce. We started with approximately 190 and are now at about 225 employees,” said María Cristina Aponte Alequín, Para la Naturaleza’s Financial Management Accountant & Controller. “Also, we advanced the Ecodetours program, which began to take place more frequently.”

For Neida Pumarejo-Cintrón, the NMTC initiative is a benefit not only for non-profit organizations and private companies, but for the entities that participate as investors, and on a larger scale, the Island.

“A responsible organization that has a mission worth carrying out cannot leave a quarter on the table, as my grandfather used to say. We have the obligation and the responsibility to look for all avenues, all sources of funds that will help complete your mission. Some will be simpler, some more sophisticated,” said Pumarejo Cintrón.

Para la Naturaleza intends to participate again in the NMTC program and continue implementing economic, environmental and community development projects that impact the island.

The executives did not hesitate to reassure that, although the process to participate in the NMTC is not simple, it is very beneficial and worthwhile.

“I recommend it,” said Pumarejo Cintrón.

Popular Community Capital, LLC is a subsidiary of Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, created and certified in 2015 as an Economic Development Entity by the U.S. Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund). Popular Community Capital’s mission is to provide capital at flexible rates and terms to businesses or projects located in or that will directly benefit low-income communities, primarily in areas where Popular has a presence.