El Limón Lagoon
Conservation benefit: Enforcement of a 2,676-acre protected area consisting of lagoon, mixed vegetation, and mangrove habitat for 15 years
Community benefit: Repair and improvement of ecotourism infrastructure
El Limón Lagoon is part of a system of lagoons on the coastal plain between the Coridilera Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. A short channel links this shallow lagoon to the ocean. It is a Wildlife Reserve, an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area, and is in the process of being declared a Ramsar wetland of international importance. However, the land around the lagoon is mostly private, and actual protection is minimal. Activities in and around the lagoon include fishing, aquaculture, cattle grazing, and coconut and rice plantations.
In areas where fresh and salt water mix, there are mangroves that are critical to the health of the lagoon. Red mangrove is dominant, though there are also white, black, and button mangroves. A total of 75 species of birds (several classified as vulnerable) are found around the lagoon; five are endemic to Hispaniola. Nearby beaches are resting places for leatherback, loggerhead, and green sea turtles.
The community of Los Guineos, on the southern end of the lagoon, has a population of around 200. Many people make a living by fishing, and some have served as de facto rangers. New protection measures would include eliminating the felling of mangrove and dragon trees, prevention of bird poaching, and improved protection for turtles.
The community will use a Seacology grant to support ecotourism, which will generate sustainable income for locals and improve monitoring. There is some kayak tourism at Los Guineos, but the facilities – jetty, visitor waiting and resting area, and restrooms – need repairs. Local fishermen’s and tour guide organizations will lead the repair work. The Ministry of the Environment has pledged to help develop a plan for better enforcement. CEBSE, led by 2018 Seacology Prize recipient Patricia Lamelas, will be our nonprofit partner.