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Dominican Republic

El Tablón Ecological Park

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Conservation benefit: Protection of a 66-acre area consisting of lagoon, mixed vegetation, and mangrove habitat for 15 years

Community benefit: Mangrove nursery and planting, bird feeders and nesting structures, apiculture facilities, and infrastructure and equipment for ecotourism

Date Approved: 06.2020

Ecotourism

This project supports a local conservation-based tourism initiative.

Mangroves

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

Ocean

This project protects ocean ecosystems, making coastal communities more economically and physically secure in the face of climate change.

Seagrass

This project protects seagrass, which traps more CO2 than any other marine ecosystem, slowing global warming.

Human activities – overfishing, waste dumping, deforestation, water pollution, and poaching – have badly damaged the diverse ecosystems of El Tablón Ecological Park. This project will both protect the park’s unique ecosystems and provide income to local people.

This amazing area contains tropical rainforest, coastal forest, sand dunes, estuaries, and mangroves; coral reefs are nearby. All four of the Dominican Republic’s mangrove species grow in the area. Various threatened species include many aquatic and coastal birds, bull sharks, and the Antillean manatee. The park is a wetland of international significance, and has legal protection because it borders the Sosua Marine Reserve.

Community members know the importance of restoring the healthy mangroves and reefs that their livelihoods depend on. They also recognize the area’s great potential for sustainable ecotourism and aquaculture and have already restored some coral reef.

Members of the Sosua Fishermen’s Association have agreed to maintain, watch over, and protect the park. They will manage a mangrove nursery to propagate about 1,200 seedlings of all four mangrove species, and plant them in a five-acre area. New nesting structures will help the park’s birds. They will also launch a beekeeping facility, producing honey and wax for local markets. The apiculture station, which will initially be composed of 40 honey bee boxes, will be managed by community members. Honey will be bottled and sold to visitors, community, supermarkets, and hotels branded as “Sosúa Mangrove Honey.”

After these activities, community members will move on to revitalizing the area for ecotourism, working with project partner Fundacion Ecologica Magua. They will add paths, a wildlife viewing point, a gathering center, and signs. They will buy equipment such as kayaks and paddleboards. The fishers will learn about conservation and surveillance, and how to teach visitors about the local ecosystems. They will share educational materials with local schools and businesses. Finally, they will set up a garbage collection center to make the environment healthier for all species, humans included.

Project Updates

February 2021

The project began in September 2020. Activities have focused on design of the area, clean-ups, and germination of 300 red mangrove seedlings. Almost 200 black mangroves have been collected and are being planted into nursery bags. All this has been done in the context of community meetings, landscaping, and monitoring mangrove growth from past restorations. Four women and six men from the fishermen’s association have been trained in bird conservation and as environmental hiking guides. After the first clean-ups of the site, salt-resistant coastal plant species were planted, including endemic and native shrubs that attract butterflies, birds, and crabs. The oyster reef and pilot seaweed farm ideas in the original proposal have been scrapped in favor of apiculture and mangrove honey production.

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