All CEP Technical Reports
CEP Technical Report No. 36 1996: Status of Protected
Area Systems in the Wider Caribbean Region
Area 48,442 sq. km.
Protected Areas (PAs)
|PAs with Marine or Coastal Zones||Extension|
|World Heritage Sites||0||0||0|
(1) Totals have been adjusted to avoid double counting areas that are classified in 2 or more categories.
Policy and Legislation
The first legislation providing for the protection of natural resources was Decree No. 2295, (1844), which prohibited deforestation around river sources. Law No. 4794, (1907) provided for the creation of a body of rural guards (guardacampestres) to protect the countryside. In 1928, Law No. 944 prohibited deforestation and cultivation on mountain summits, for 20 m either side of a river and around lakes, and for a radius of 150 m around river sources.
Law No. 5856, (1962) provided for the creation of the General Directorate of Forestry (Dirección General Forestal) (DGF) to manage and restore forest areas. The National Forest Commission (Comisión Nacional Forestal) (CONATEF) was established under provision of Law No. 705, 1982 as a high level organisation to regulate the activities of the DGF.
In 1965, the State Secretariat of Agriculture (Secretaría de Estado de Agricultura) (SEA) was restructured through Law No. 8, and specific environmental functions assigned to a state Subsecretariat of Natural Resources (Subsecretaría de Recursos Naturales, SURENA) within it. Based on this Law, Resolution No. 44, 1978 provided for the creation of the Wildlife Department (Departamento de Vida Silvestre, DVS), within SURENA, to inventory and manage national flora and fauna for conservation purposes, and to ensure sustainable exploitation.
Law No. 67 of November 1974 provided for the creation of the National Directorate of Parks (Dirección Nacional de Parques, DNP) as an autonomous agency responsible for the administration, development and care of protected areas. Under this Law, three main types of conservation units are described: recreational area (área recreativa); historical area (área histórica); and natural and indigenous area (área natural e indígena). Additional to the eight management categories, provided for by Law No. 67, in practice, management categories not described in legislation are used (SEA/DVS 1990). Individual laws and decrees providing for the creation of individual protected areas often describe the conservation objectives of the area, and state activities prohibited within it, but designations need to be standardised at the national level (SEA/DVS 1990).
Provision is made in article 12 for the expropriation of private land to establish protected areas where necessary. The objectives of protected areas are listed and include conserving unique geological features and landscapes of outstanding beauty, cultural remains, refuges for threatened endemic species, examples of ecosystem types, and specific resources such as water, to provide opportunities for scientific research and recreation. Prohibited activities are given and include deforestation, and hunting or capturing wildlife except for authorised scientific research.
Since the 1970's several Projects for Constitutional Reform (Proyectos de Reforma Constitucional) have been initiated to revise the present constitution, and include regulations and guidelines for sustainable resource use (SEA/DVS 1990). However, proposals to add a clause relating to nature conservation to the 1966 Constitution, which were put forward in 1974, has not been passed as yet (SEA/DVS 1990).
Without constitutional provision for natural resource protection or other comprehensive policy documents, there are no national guidelines on which to base environmental legislation. As a result, this legislation has often been ambiguous, inconsistent and ineffective. The absence of a national conservation strategy results in a lack of co-ordination between public institutions with interest in natural resources and conflicts often arise (Ramírez, pers. comm., 1992). Other governmental sectors can formulate and pass laws that permit activities which may directly contradict conservation laws, such as urban development, or mineral exploitation in protected areas (SEA/DVS 1990). A thorough revision of the current environmental legislation is required.
Conventions & Treaties
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES, 1973)
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOS, 1982)
Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Migratory Species, 1972)
Convention on Nature Protection and Wildlife Preservation in the Western Hemisphere (Western Hemisphere Convention, 1940)
Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage, 1972)
Programmes & Associations
Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y Ensenanza (CATIE, 1972)
Caribbean Conservation Association (CCA, 1967)
Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP, 1981) and its Specially Protected Areas & Wildlife Programme (SPAW, 1990)
Latin American Network for Technical Co-operation in National Parks, Protected Areas & Wildlife (LAN-NPPAW)
UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB, 1972)
FAO Tropical Forestry Action Plan (TFAP, 1985)
There are 12 governmental institutions with responsibility for natural resource administration and management (SEA/DVS 1990). This spreading of responsibility among organisations with frequently conflicting interests in natural resource use reduces the effectiveness of environmental protection (SEA/DVS 1990).
The Subsecretariat of Natural Resources (SURENA) comprised four departments: Land and Water (Tierras y aguas); Fishery Resources (Recursos Pesqueros); Inventory and Organisation of Natural Resources (Inventario y Ordenamiento); and Environmental Education (Educación Ambiental). In 1978 a fifth department, the Wildlife Department (Departamento de Vida Silvestre, DVS) was established in response to the need for management of wildlife resources (SEA/DVS 1990).
The DVS is responsible for conducting scientific research and regulating wildlife use, and ensuring compliance with protected area regulations and international wildlife treaties. It is divided into five sections responsible for evaluation and management of wildlands; ornithology; herpetology and mammalogy; hunting control; and administration (Schubert, pers. comm., 1992).
At the time of its creation the lack of information available on the biological characteristics of predominant ecosystems precluded the formulation of effective management plans. The DVS implemented the Study and Management of Wildland Project to inventory biological diversity in the country. As a result of this study, nine new areas were established in 1983 (SEA/DVS 1990).
The National Directorate of Parks (DNP) was established in 1974 as an autonomous government agency directly under the Presidency. It was responsible for administering, regulating, maintaining and developing national parks and other protected areas. The internal organisation of the DNP is given in the legislation providing for its creation. At the head are a director and a sub-director, both trained specialists in national parks management, below whom are four divisions whose responsibilities reflect the functions of the DNP itself: legal issues; supplies; accounts; and topography.
The Advisory Committee (Comité Asesor) comprises the State Secretary of Education, Fine Arts and Culture (Secretario de Estado de Educación, Bellas Artes y Cultos); the head of the National Directorate of Tourism (Dirección Nacional de Turismo); the governors of the Autonomous University of Santa Domingo, the National University Pedro Henríquez and the University Madre y Maestra; and a representative of a national private organisation with interests in natural resources and conservation. The Advisory Committee regulates the activities of the DNP and ensures compliance with the legislation.
An administrative office of the DNP is assigned to each protected area, comprising a specialist trained in wildland management, and a body of park guards (guardaparques) to patrol the area and ensure compliance with established regulations (Váldez and Mateo, n.d.). DNP policy is to delegate authority and responsibility to local offices (Hartshorn et al 1981).
The General Directorate of Forestry (DGF), established in 1962, is responsible for conserving and developing forest resources and ensuring their utilisation is conducted in a sustainable manner (SEA/DVS 1990).
A large number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the Dominican Republic work on conservation and environmental protection issues. Among the largest and most active groups is the Nature Foundation (Fundación Integral ProNaturaleza, PRONATURA), founded in 1985, which is concerned with promoting scientific research of natural resources to allow for the conservation and rational development of the environment. Most NGOs are unified by the Dominican Federation of Ecological Associations (Federación Dominicana de Asociaciones Ecológicas, FEDOMASEC), which co-ordinates the activities of conservation organisations and formulates guidelines for the environmental protection and education projects of its members (SEA/DVS 1990).
Those NGOs which work in the declaration and management of protected areas are inter alia: Grupo Jaragua, Progressio Foundation (Fundación Progressio), Quita Espuela Foundation (Fundación Quita Espuela), Cibao Ecological Society (Sociedad Ecológica del Cibao, SOECI), Barahona Ecological Society (Sociedad Ecológica de Barahona, SOEBA), and the Centre for the Ecodevelopment of Bahía de Samana and its Environment (Centro para el Ecodesarrollo de la Bahía de Samana y su Entorno, CEBSE) (Schubert, pers. comm., 1992).
Problems in natural resource and protected area management arise from the large number of public institutions vested with such responsibilities. In many cases conflicts of interest result, preventing the implementation of a coherent conservation policy. Legislation is urgently required to amalgamate all natural resource responsibilities into a single institution, which would be responsible for planning, implementing and supervising action plans and national policies for resource management (SEA/DVS 1990).
The territory of the Dominican Republic comprises two thirds of the island La Española (the other third belonging to Haiti) and six small islands, with a total coastline of 1,576 km (SEA/DVS 1990). A characteristic feature is its high elevation; a large part of the country is over 1,000 m and the highest mountains in the Caribbean, with altitudes of over 3,000 m, are located here.
The great topographical variation within the country, from sea level to 3,087m, results in a range of temperatures and ecosystems which has promoted a high degree of biodiversity and endemism (SEA/DVS 1990). Around 36% of the floral species found on the island of La Española are endemic (SEA/DVS 1990). The major vegetation zones are: semi-deciduous forest; evergreen humid forest; pine forest; and seashore and riverine habitats (Schubert, pers. comm., 1992). Following the Holdridge classification system, nine ecological life zones are found (SEA/DVS 1990). The largest of these are sub-tropical moist and sub-tropical dry forests.
The most densely populated regions are the southern coast and the Cibao valley (SEA/DVS 1990). Around 0.62% of total land area is occupied by urban development and roads, and over 50% is used for agriculture. Land ownership is unequal, with a tradition of large estates owned by a few people: 70% of farms are less than 5 ha. As a result, peasant farmers work small plots of land and move frequently, particularly to sparsely populated mountainous regions where insufficient knowledge of cultivating the difficult terrain causes severe soil erosion in many areas (SEA/DVS 1990).
Around 90% of total land area has been deforested for agricultural purposes or urban development. Only mountain summits and areas with infertile soil, such as in the south-east, remain in their natural state (SEA/DVS 1990). At the beginning of the 1900's, forest covered around 85% of total land area, but by 1986, only 10.1% remained forested (SEA/DVS 1990). Since the 1960's, the government has prohibited deforestation in an effort to protect forest resources (SEA/DVS 1990).
The first national park was established in 1956. By 1983 there were five areas protected under this designation. Following the creation of the DVS in 1978, a nation-wide survey and inventory of biological diversity implemented by this institute resulted directly in the establishment of nine new protected areas in 1983 (SEA/DVS 1990). The Dominican Republic's 18 protected areas cover over 1 million ha, the equivalent of 23% of the countries landmass. Half of these areas contain marine or coastal resources (Summary Table and Annex II).
The present system of protected areas does not cover all the major ecosystems in the country. Many being under-represented or absent altogether, in particular montane forest. Marine, mangrove, and fresh water lake ecosystems are well represented in the protected areas system (SEA/DVS 1990).
Between 1979 and 1990 a review of biological diversity and protected areas was conducted by the Wildlife Department (DVS), which involved an analysis of literature and a series of field studies. The survey recommended a number of measures to improve protected area effectiveness. These included modifying current legislation and administrative structure, and increasing scientific research, environmental education, training for park personnel, and involvement of NGOs in all environmental issues.
Eleven management categories are currently in use, only 8 of which are mentioned in the 1974 law providing for the protected areas system. Forest reserves, wildlife refuges and fauna sanctuaries have been established without standardised objectives and regulations, leading to inconsistencies and contradictions. The existing system lacks coherence, protected areas require re-categorisation (SEA/DVS 1990).
Measures to stabilise migratory agriculture would reduce pressure on protected areas. To increase protected area coverage, 15 new sites were recommended for protection. Further studies will be done in these areas to formulate management plans and determine suitable designations (SEA/DVS 1990).
Dirección Nacional de Parques, Apartado 2487, SANTO DOMINGO Tel: (809) 685-1316
Departamento de Vida Silvestre (DVS), Secretaría de Estado de Agricultura (SURENA), SANTO DOMINGO
Centro para la Conservación y Ecodesarrollo de la Bahía de Samana y su Entorno, Inc. (CEBSE), Apdo Postal 22427, SANTO DOMINGO Fax: (809) 688-6351
Sub-Secretaria de Estado de Recursos Naturales, Secretaria de Estado de Agricultura, JFK-K62 Autopista Duarte, Jardines del Norte, Apartado Postal 1472, SANTO DOMINGO Tel: (809) 547-2189 Fax: (809) 227-1268
DNP (1980) Plan de manejo: Parque Nacional del Este. Dirección Nacional de Parques, Santo Domingo. 68 pp.
DNP (1986) Plan de manejo y conservación: Parque Nacional Jaragua. Dirección National de Parques, Santo Domingo. 167 pp.
DNP (1989) Los parques nacionales de la República Dominicana. Dirección Nacional de Parques, Santo Domingo. 137 pp.
Hartshorn, G., Antonini, G., DuBois, R., Harcharik, D., Heckadon, S., Newton, H., Quesada, C., Shores, J. and Staples, G. (1981) The Dominican Republic country environmental profile: a field study. JRB Associates, Virginia, USA. 118 pp.
Ormazábal, C. (1988) Sistemas nacionales de áreas silvestres protegidas en América Latina. Basado en los resultados del taller sobre Planificación de Sistemas Nacionales du Areas Silvestres Protegidas, Caracas, Venezuela, 9-13 junio 1986. Proyecto FAO/PNUMA sobre manejo de áreas silvestres, áreas protegidas y vida silvestre en América Latina y el Caribe. Oficina Regional de la FAO para América Latina y el Caribe, Santiago, Chile. p.20-p.23.
Schubert, A. (in press) The Conservation of Biological Diversity in the Dominican Republic. Oryx.
SEA/DVS (1990) La diversidad biológica en la República Dominicana. Reporte preparado por el Departamento de Vida Silvestre para el Servicio Alemán de Cooperación Social-Técnica y WWF-US. Secretaría de Estado de Agricultura, SURENA/DVS, Santo Domingo. 266 pp.
Váldez, G. and Mateo, M. (n.d.) Sistema de áreas protegidas de la República Dominicana. Dirección Nacional de Parques, Santo Domingo. 96 pp.
ANNEX I: LEGAL INSTRUMENTS
Definition of protected area designations, as legislated together with authorities responsible for their administration.
Title: Ley No. 67 que crea la Dirección Nacional de Parques (Law No. 67 creating the National Directorate of Parks)
Date: 20 November 1974
Brief description: Provides for the establishment of an autonomous institute responsible for the development, administration, and maintenance of a system of protected areas. The management categories that comprise the system are described, but details of the designations are not given in any legislation.
Administrative authority: Dirección Nacional de Parques (National Directorate of Parks).
Designations: The management categories that make up the system of protected areas are considered to form three main groups:
Area Recreativa (Recreational Area), comprising Parque Recreativo Nacional (National Recreation Park), Jardín Zoológico Nacional (National Zoological Garden), Acuario (Aquarium) and Carretera Panorámica (Scenic Route).
Area Histórica (Historic Area), comprising Monumento Nacional (National Monument).
Area Natural (Natural Area), comprising: Jardín Botánico (Botanical Garden); Parque Nacional (National Park) and Reserva Científica Natural (Natural Scientific Reserve).
To be included in the protected area system, an area must be:
of national importance owing to its scientific, cultural, scenic, or historic characteristics, or for its recreational potential
of sufficient size to ensure the conservation of the natural formations, flora and fauna found within it.
open to the public for recreational, educational, or scientific purpose. All visitors are obliged to comply with the regulations established by this law.
deforestation or destruction of the vegetation, hunting or capture of wildlife, collection of the eggs of marine turtles and other animals, and any other disturbances to the natural condition of the protected area, are all prohibited.
Source: Original legislation
ANNEX II: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC PROTECTED AREAS LIST
|Name of area||IUCN & National Mgmt. Categories||Presence of Marine or Coastal Zones||Area
|José Armando Bermúdez||II||NP||76,600||1956|
|José del Carmen Ramírez||II||NP||73,784||1958|
|Sierra de Bahoruco||II||NP||80,000||1986|
|Ebano Verde Natural||IV||SR||2,310||1989|
|Laguna del Rincón||IV||SR||1983|
|Lagunas Redonda y Limón||IV||SR||YES||10,100||1983|
|Loma Quita Espuela||IV||SR||7,250||1992|
|Banco de la Plata||IV||CS||374,800||1986|
|Cabo Francés Viejo||V||NP||YES||125||1974|
|Parque Submarino La Caleta||V||NP||YES||1,010||1986|
|Loma Isabel de Torres||V||SR||YES||2,200||1983|
|El Aceitillar Cabo Rojo||V||SR||41,000||1986|
NP = National Parks
SR = Scenic Route
CS = Cetacean Sanctuary
SR = Scientific Reserves
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