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Dominican Republic

Las Calderas


Conservation benefit: Conservation and sustainable management of 173 acres of button mangrove forest for 10 years, management of solid waste

Community benefit: Strengthening of the productive capacities of beekeepers

Date Approved: 02.2022


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

Las Dunas de Las Calderas is a protected area on the south-central coast of the Dominican Republic, only one and a half hours’ drive from the capital of Santo Domingo. It’s a stabilized dune system covered mostly by dry forest vegetation. Despite its dry appearance, it is teeming with life, home to the endangered Hispaniola parrot, rhinoceros iguana, recently discovered curlytail lizard (Leiocephalus sixtoi), hawksbill and green turtles, and American manatee. The forest comprises over 30 species of plants, five of which are endemic. The area has a mix of palm groves, cacti aggregations, button and red mangroves, and other dry forest species.

Though on paper the area is protected, it is threatened by clearing for agriculture, the felling of mangroves for coastal development, and extraction of sand for construction. Illegal removal of plants and animals for sale is an ongoing problem, as is poor waste management.

This project supports the beekeepers of nearby Las Calderas, who serve as de facto custodians of the area and see the environmental threats first-hand. They are highly motivated to protect the forest because its diverse plants, including mangroves, provide food for the bees and make the area perfect for honey production.

This project gives the beekeepers specialized training, helping them produce higher-quality products that can be sold for higher prices in broader markets. The training also includes accounting, marketing and sales. They are also building a honey-handling facility. Community members are learning about sustainable use of the protected area. There is training on solid waste, including using more reusable or biodegradable materials and improving sorting and handling. Environmental education activities and workshops target children and teens in particular.

This project is very similar to the successful Seacology project at El Tablón. We are working with the same organization that provided beekeeping training, Consorcio Ambiental Dominicano.

Project Updates

February 2024

After two training sessions on solid waste management, beekeepers are both managing their own waste more efficiently and acting as de facto cleaners and guardians. The project has taught local school staff and students about waste management and how to reduce the amount of garbage they generate at home and at school. National Mangrove Awareness Campaign partner Grupo Jaragua has facilitated mangrove planting days with kids, campers, and army personnel.

Last October, Karen Peterson and Leida Buglass represented Seacology at the inauguration of the honey collection and extraction center. Remaining project activities include training sessions on good beekeeping practices, organizational and commercial development, and establishment of a plan to control invasive species.

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July 2023

Three workshops for beekeepers have taken place, covering sanitation, bee health, and bee “enemies.” During these sessions, experienced and novice beekeepers exchanged knowledge and learned new techniques from Sesar Rodriguez, a beekeeping and flora expert renowned throughout the DR. Construction of the honey collection and processing center has been delayed due to land use issues, but an alternate site has been found close to the apiaries and in the buffer zone of the protected areas. The association members will pay a membership fee to operate the facility.

A Seacology group visited the project in April, when a Play for the Mangroves activity was carried out next to the local naval base. The combination of naval officers and cadets, local youth, and a representative from the Ministry of the Environment made for a wonderful morning to plant mangrove seedlings, followed by a meeting with the beekeepers and a delicious lunch next to the new honey collection and processing center.

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February 2023

The beekeepers and youth group have joined forces for conservation and developed a waste and activity management plan. In November, a workshop on beekeeping sanitation was held, and four more workshops are planned. They are involving local youth; local high school students recently cleaned up plastic from the mangrove area. They have identified a proposed site for the honey collection center and are waiting for permission to start construction.

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October 2022

As part of a tour of our active projects across the country, Seacology staff met with the local beekeepers and our partners at Consorcio Ambiental Dominicano. The mangroves remain well protected and are teeming with birds and other wildlife.

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June 2022

Leaders of the local beekeepers association and Consorcio Ambiental Dominicano (who will conduct trainings on beekeeping and marketing) are determining their roles and responsibilities. Seacology visitors met with the beekeepers in March to discuss plans and see the unique habitat of the Dunas de las Calderas National Monument.

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April 2022

In March, 2022, Seacology staff had the opportunity to visit Las Calderas. With representatives from our project partner organization, we visited the beekeepers and talked about their challenges and successes. We also saw some of their hives in the protected area. A highlight was seeing bees out and about in the dry forest, voraciously feeding on blooming plant life. Near the mangroves, endemic rhinoceros iguanas sunned themselves on a quiet roadway. We can’t wait to see what the beekeepers of Las Calderas accomplish in the future.

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