A sweet deal for conservation
Mangrove honey from Las Calderas embodies wetlands and sustainable livelihoods
By Leida Buglass
Coastal mangrove forests provide enormous environmental benefits, protecting coastal communities from storm damage and supporting fisheries that feed countless people. And by trapping enormous amounts of carbon from the air, they fight climate change .
But people who live near mangroves know that there’s another benefit: Bees love mangrove flowers and produce uniquely delicious mangrove honey. So conserving mangrove forests not only helps the environment, but also provides important, sustainable income for local communities. Over the past year, Seacology has helped people in Las Calderas, in the Dominican Republic, develop livelihoods from beekeeping. Among local people, Las Calderas is quickly becoming a synonym for mangrove honey.
Las Calderas Dunes is a protected area mainly covered by dry forest vegetation, including five endemic plant species and several native palm trees and cacti. The bay in the area is surrounded by red mangroves on its shores and white mangroves further inland. All of this diverse vegetation makes an ideal habitat for bees.
Las Calderas has had a beekeeping tradition going back many years, but traditional methods were not very efficient, and beekeeping wasn’t very profitable.
Last year Seacology began working with the beekeeping community to strengthen their business — and safeguard the ecosystems that support it. Part of our national initiative to protect and promote mangroves across the Dominican Republic, the partnership (our second focusing on mangrove honey) is already showing impressive results.
With intensive training sessions on beekeeping, and using both traditional and modern beekeeping knowledge, the Las Calderas Beekeepers Association (Apideca) have realized their dream to establish a honey extraction and collection center. These local beekeepers worked with the Dominican Environmental Consortium (CAD) and the youth group Reforestemos Bani.
In exchange for Seacology’s support for their business, the beekeepers are helping to protect the mangroves. They are fighting against logging and invaders, replanting trees in degraded areas, cleaning the wetlands, and managing waste.
“Our goal is not only to spread awareness about the delicious honey we produce but also to revive the traditional beekeeping practices of our elders and pass on the knowledge to future generations,” explains Alex, a member of Reforestemos Bani. “Seacology has been a great support in providing us with the necessary know-how from apiculture experts, with the proper equipment and unifying us to work towards a common goal. We are now empowered to promote the importance of the rich honey-making culture through conserving and protecting our unique coastal vegetation.”
Leida Buglass is Seacology’s field representative for the Dominican Republic.
The project was recently featured by Dominican newspaper Listin Diario. Check out the translated article here.