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Dominican Republic

El Astillero


Conservation benefit: Conservation of a critical one-acre remnant of mangroves within a 77-acre mangrove area

Community benefit: New mangrove park and outdoor coastal classroom, community education, youth activities, media campaign, and mangrove restoration

Date Approved: 06.2021


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

This project protects an area of mangrove trees, at the mouth of the El Arroyo River on the Samaná Peninsula, that is small but critical to the area’s environmental health. These mangroves mitigate erosion and flooding, and serve as a natural barrier and filter between fresh and sea water. The area is home to all four of the DR’s mangrove species. A young and growing forest, it sequesters even more carbon than mature forests. It is also located between two of the most beautiful beaches of the Samaná Peninsula, the seasonal home of nesting hawksbill turtles. Vast seagrass beds lie offshore.

The mangroves are threatened by farmers who want to clear trees to grow coconuts and fishers who want to burn trees to make catching crabs easier. But by far the most troubling danger is the potential development of tourism infrastructure.

To highlight the importance of the mangrove forest, nearby communities and local environmental groups have been drawing up a management plan. They plan to build trails so that locals and visitors can explore the area safely; the trails will also provide make patrolling it easier. New signs will teach visitors about the importance of protecting coastal ecosystems. In addition, the riverbank area will be restored. Workshops on mangroves and coastal ecosystems will engage district officials, landowners, fishers and other resource users.

Engaging youth is a key part of the program. In a new outdoor “coastal classroom,” schoolchildren learn about mangroves. They can also enter a mangrove ecosystem song and poetry contest, in the genre of their choice – rap, bachata (a popular form of music that originated in the DR), with or without instruments. The songs will be shared on social media to increase their reach. A professional artist will work with children, teens, and young adults to create mangrove-themed public murals.

Project Updates

July 2023

This project has focused squarely on local youth — approximately 2,000 youth have been made aware of the importance of mangroves. Before, 80 percent of them knew only that there was a “bush” near the beach. During visits by Seacology staff and supporters, we’ve learned firsthand that not only are local kids now aware of mangroves, they can name all four species that grow in the DR! As part of the National Mangrove Awareness Campaign, Grupo Jaragua staff have supported the local schools. Murals now appear throughout the town and have been very well received. The mayor’s office proudly calls El Limón a “Mangrove Municipality,” and other local mayors have expressed interest in replicating the idea. A 3K and 5K “Run for the Mangroves” was held during a Seacology group visit in April, and was a smashing success. The project’s final activity was a youth mangrove photo contest.

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February 2023

Project organizers have seen how art increase mangrove awareness, and held another mural painting event. Members of a local tourist housing development subsidized this one – a good sign. Development in Samaná is accelerating, putting ecosystems including that of El Astillero and its virgin beaches in the sights of investors. The mayor of El Limón has requested more murals, as they “visualize” the importance of mangroves while beautifying the town. Youth and community members will create them with the help of one of the most recognized muralists in the country.

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October 2022

Seacology staff members Karen Peterson and Kevin Claassen visited the project as part of a larger trip to check in on the national initiative’s progress. They met with a group of young Play for the Mangroves participants for a mangrove replanting and to hand out new sports equipment. The seedlings planted during the previous visit in April are growing well.

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April 2022

Seacology staff visited the project in late March, 2022. Our breath was taken away when we saw the beauty of the intersection of the mangroves and the sea –  it is clear that this is an area to be nurtured and protected. A group of local kids were already on site, sorting trash they’d gathered and learning why plastic waste is particularly bad news for mangroves. If you want to plant mangroves efficiently, engage young athletes! It was amazing to see the enthusiasm and energy of these kids after learning about mangroves. One proudly recited the names of all four species of mangroves: “Mangle rojo! Mangle blanco! Mangle negro! Mangle boton!”

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February 2022

The project began with visits by project leaders to local leaders. In December, two project promoters developed content for activities to be carried out in the next quarter. Work on the design of the mangrove infrastructure, trails, and bridge has begun. Two partner organization board members contracted COVID and had to quarantine, but activities are scheduled to move ahead soon.

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