El Junk National Forest
Puerto Rico, Rio Grande

El Junkie National Forest is located in the northeast of Puerto Rico, on the slopes of the Sierra de Lucillo mountains, 40 km from the capital of San Juan. The forest was declared a protected area back in 1876 by the Spanish king Alfonso XII, which makes El Junké the oldest reserve in the Western Hemisphere. In 1903, the reserve was named the Lucillo Forest Reserve, in 1906 it was declared the Caribbean National Forest, and in 2007 it was renamed the El Junk National Forest. Local residents, for the abundance of rainfall (up to 508 centimeters per year) that fall in these places, call it Rain Forest (Rain Forest). El Junke covers an area of 28,900 acres, which is divided into four areas - the Tabonuco forest (a dense forest with tall trees, because of the dense crown of which sunlight hardly penetrates the lower forest layer), the Palo Colorado forest (grows on gentle slopes and in valleys with marshy soil, characterized by low trees with a poorly developed root system), the Sierra Palm forest (a forest with undersized trees growing on steep slopes, at an altitude of about 450 meters above sea level, on unstable soils) and the Dwarf Forest (dwarf trees) , growing at an altitude of 900 meters above sea level, the forest is almost always shrouded in fog, for which it is called the elven forest). The forest landscape is diverse - rocks, valleys, waterfalls and mountain streams. Due to the diversity of flora and fauna in the National Forest, El Junke has received the status of a biosphere reserve and is protected by the United Nations. In El Junk, 150 species of ferns and 240 species of trees are registered, 88 of which are endemic species, and 23 species are found only in this forest. Exotic trees and shrubs with leaves growing in human height, many species of orchids, vines, bromeliads, mosses and other epiphytes grow here. There are no large animals in El Junk, but there are plenty of birds, amphibians, reptiles and insects. About 13 species of the tree frog Coqui (leaf frog frog) live in the forest, their so-called "singing" is distributed throughout El Junk that sunset until dawn. These small frogs (the largest about 5 centimeters) make such loud sounds that a small colony of coca can easily stun a person. The locals call their croaking “hellish chanting”. About 50 species of birds are identified in the protected forest, among them there are many rare and endemic species. The Puerto Rican parrot Amazona vitatta lives only in the dwarf forest of El Junk. Tourist routes of varying difficulty have been developed for visitors to the National Forest, hiking trails have been laid, the El Portal Visitors Center information center has been created, recreation areas, parking lots, observation towers are equipped, and tours are conducted.

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