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Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic Mangrove Initiative


Conservation benefit: Nationwide mangrove awareness campaign

Community benefit: Mangrove-based ecotourism, support for youth sports

Date Approved: 02.2020


This project protects mangroves, which trap more CO2 than any other kind of forest and as a result, slow global warming.

Seacology’s newest national project, in the Dominican Republic, is squarely focused on mangroves—small trees that grow in a tangle of stilt-like roots along the shore. These shrubby trees are the backbone of critical ecosystems. The DR’s mangrove forests provide refuge for migratory and resident birds, from tiny hummingbirds to stately egrets. Brightly colored lizards, many found nowhere else, scurry among the branches, and fish thrive in the brackish waters. Mangroves also act as a key buffer against storm surges and rising sea levels—crucial because 70 percent of the country’s population is at high risk for floods and severe storms. The ecosystems keep enormous amounts of carbon from entering our atmosphere, making mangrove protection one of the most cost-effective ways known to combat global climate change.

In the past 50 years, however, the country has lost over a third of its mangroves. Even in areas that are supposed to be protected, mangroves have been cut, degraded, and cleared. Public perception of mangroves is often negative: Many people view them as mosquito-infested swamps, and there is little awareness of the vital benefits they provide.

Our DR initiative has several parts. We will support a nationwide awareness campaign to pump up pride in these amazing ecosystems. Using social media, displays at shopping malls, spokespeople, school curricula, theatrical performances and more, our local partners will not only educate, but also showcase the beauty of mangroves and their critical importance to the environment and to human health and safety.

Seacology is also promoting small-scale, mangrove-related ecotourism and other livelihood initiatives in coastal communities. Tourists are eager to paddle kayaks through healthy, lush mangroves, enjoying the peaceful atmosphere and abundant birdlife. So wildlife-based initiatives give people an alternative to fishing and provide a powerful incentive to conserve, not cut, the mangroves. (Learn more about the mangrove conservation and livelihood projects below.)

Finally, in the sports-loving DR, we can’t think of a better way to engage the next generation in conservation than by providing baseball and volleyball equipment along with mangrove education to Dominican youth. We’re very excited about this fun and innovative program.

Our in-country project partner is Grupo Jaragua, which has worked to preserve the DR’s biodiversity for more than 30 years. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram to receive the latest updates!

Project Updates

February 2023

As part of the campaign’s biodiversity surveys, a new species of lizard, Guarocuyus jaraguanas, was discovered. Locally known as “Lucia,” the species was found in only two locations within protected areas. In the past year, campaign staff met with 35 organizations, from NGOs to corporations to universities, to collaborate on mangrove awareness and conservation. Additionally, 103 in-person and virtual talks entitled, “Mangroves: An Ecosystem Between Two Worlds” were held, with close to 3,000 participants, 60 percent of whom were women. Seminars took place with park rangers and science teachers, and a workshop was held to create crafts from refuse. Thirteen citizen science activities engaged almost 500 people in observing and recording flora and fauna species.

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December 2022

In October 2022, Seacology’s Accounting Manager Kevin Claassen and Senior Manager of Special Initiatives Karen Peterson traveled to the DR to visit our coastal conservation projects at Boca Chica, La Playita, El Astillero and Las Calderas. At Boca Chica, we saw the progress of the “green breakwater” habitat restoration and learned about future plans for this popular but vulnerable area. At La Playita, our newest DR project, we met with the local fishermen who are acting as stewards for the conservation of this remarkably beautiful habitat. At El Astillero, a Play for the Mangroves activity was taking place, with local kids engaging in replanting and cleanup activities, then having a blast playing volleyball and baseball (and receiving sports equipment for their efforts). And at Las Calderas, we were able to take a boat into the beautiful, intact mangroves then meet with the beekeepers who are heading up the community conservation initiative.

Finally, we met with the staff of our partner organization Grupo Jaragua, who are heading up the national campaign. They’ve been busy with a number of in-person and online activities to continue to elevate knowledge about and conservation of the DR’s mangroves. It was great to see the fruits of the hard work and dedication of our partners in the DR and we can’t wait to see what 2023 holds!

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April 2022

In late March/early April 2022, a small Seacology delegation visited the DR for the first site visits since the onset of COVID-19. We met with Grupo Jaragua staff and government officials, and visited livelihood and conservation projects under the larger initiative. In addition to meeting with partner organization representatives and seeing the project areas and their progress, we were fortunate to observe Play for the Mangrove activities at Boca Chica, El Astillero and El Tablon. The energy and enthusiasm of the kids were entirely infectious, and it was abundantly clear that this program is working to connect sports-crazy kids with mangrove conservation and education.

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February 2022

Despite the difficulties of navigating the COVID-19 epidemic, Grupo Jaragua was able to conduct a variety of activities. Collaboratory meetings were held with 24 universities, NGOs, companies and government institutions. Seventy four talks on mangroves entitled, “Mangroves: an ecosystem between two worlds” were held, mostly virtually, reaching 2,122 participants. Talks were also held on legal frameworks for mangrove conservation, as well as to launch a video for the general public entitled, “Island Protectors.”

Twelve interpretive walks in mangrove areas took place, taking advantage of being able to gather safely outdoors. Two biodiversity studies of mangrove areas were held, outreach materials for schools and the general public were created and distributed, and a virtual camp for kids entitled, “Los Manglares y Yo” was launched.

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February 2021

Despite the project commencing at the start of a global pandemic, the Dominican Republic Mangrove Initiative (DRMI) is off to a productive and promising start.

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Related Projects

Our Play for the Mangroves program and these smaller community-based projects are components of the larger national initiative:

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