The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with the Instituto Tecnologico de Santo Domingo, is launching the Dominican Republic’s most comprehensive environmental protection program in the history of the country. With a $10 million multi-year grant from USAID funding the expansion, the program will seek to engage industries in sustainable practices, conserve biodiversity and establish stable funding for a network of new and existing protected areas throughout the country.
The Dominican Republic is the most biologically diverse country in the Caribbean. Over the last three decades, the Dominican Republic has expanded a park system from just three protected areas to 86 protected areas that span 24 percent of the national territory. Yet, the majority of these parks are not effectively managed, threatening the country’s natural resources like freshwater, coral reefs and sandy beaches that provide clean drinking water, sustain fisheries, protect communities from storm surge and net billions in tourism revenue.
“Protected areas form the basis of the country’s economy and help sustain the tourism industry in the Dominican Republic,” said Marianne Kleiberg. “However, more funding and participation from the private sector and communities is needed to manage and expand these protected areas so they can exist for the future.”
The new program has received a $10 million, five-year commitment from USAID to improve the protection of biodiversity while increasing public and private sector participation and institutional capacity to enforce Chapter 17 of the Central America-Dominican Republic-United States Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA).
While a cornerstone for sustainable development within the context of free trade, protected areas continually face funding shortfalls to support effective management. In addition, the lack of funding limits the development of compatible economic alternatives for local communities living in and around protected areas.
To address this growing issue, the Conservancy and Caribbean leaders launched the Caribbean Challenge, the largest multi-national conservation effort in the region that aims to build political support and generate long-term funding to protect at least 20 percent of participating countries’ marine and coastal habitats by 2020. The Caribbean Challenge goes beyond piecemeal conservation projects to protect biodiversity and preserve human livelihoods across the Caribbean through sustainably funded and managed protected area systems that are resilient to climate change and other degradations.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
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