Saving mangrove forests in the Dominican Republic
Mangrove forests are hugely valuable, yet often overlooked ecosystems, which are in decline worldwide. The small trees and shrubs, which grow along the ocean coast and waterways play a crucial role in holding coastlines in place. They create a unique ecosystem that can help mitigate climate change impacts. The forests protect communities from storm surges, beach erosion, and rising sea levels. The mangrove’s structure reduces the force of incoming waves and can reduce wave height by up to 90%. Smaller waves mean a lesser chance of destruction from hurricanes and storms.
According to Geographical magazine, “These small trees and shrubs make a critical contribution to climate regulation and can sequester up to four times more carbon than most other tropical forests. They also provide a sheltered habitat for juvenile fish and endangered wildlife”.
One of the most biologically diverse ecosystems, mangrove forests are known as the “rainforest by the sea”. These wetland areas within the Caribbean are particularly diverse and provide habitat for a number of globally endangered animal species.
Protecting mangrove forests is to the benefit of the entire world’s population and is valuable work that all citizens can participate in.
Environmental Initiatives in Sosua, Puerto Plata
Fundación Ecológica Maguá is a non-profit institution aimed at the conservation and recovery of the Environment and Natural Resources of the Dominican Republic. Manuel Alejandro Rodríguez,
President of Fundacion Ecologica Magua, works along with the Ministry of Environment and the fishing community of Sosúa. The principal aims are the restoration of the mangrove ecosystem located at the mouth of the Sosúa river, monitoring and environmental protection of the area, ecological repair of underwater ecosystems, research, and coral gardening in the bay.
El Tablón Ecological Park, on the country’s northern coast, showcases many of the ecosystems found in the Dominican Republic. The area is home to all four mangrove species that grow in the country, and also contains lush tropical rainforest, coastal forest, sand dunes, and estuaries. Coral reefs and seagrass beds can be found in the nearby waters. Because it borders the Sosua Marine Reserve, El Tablón has legal protection and is recognized as a wetland of international significance.
Fundacion Ecologica Magua is collaborating with other public, private and non-profit institutions, such as Seacology, for the management of marine resources.
Protecting Mangroves in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic
To protect one of the most popular stretches of coastline in the south part of the Dominican Republic, Tasha Gough and her father Mickey created Fundación Verde Profundo, a foundation focused on reestablishing Boca Chica’s ecosystem through mangrove reforestation.
Tasha Gough is a young Dominican marine biologist who is realizing her dream to restore the Boca Chica marine ecosystem through conservation efforts.
Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Tasha is president of the Verde Profundo foundation, which was created with the commitment to socio-economic equity and responsible environmental stewardship, with a special interest in the protection of marine resources.
Tasha’s father, Mickey Gough, arrived in the country in 1963 and has witnessed environmental deterioration, both land, and sea, of the Boca Chica area. The local ecosystem is very resilient, so with proper management, it can recover from the biggest threats of overfishing and pollution.
The goal of the foundation is to form micro sanctuaries by mixing mangrove plantations with seagrass and coral restoration of different species. With these three elements, they have successfully added fish and invertebrates to the area, becoming a kind of nursery for the biodiversity that has been diminished in recent years.
The work of Verde Profundo is making things sustainable for the future. With time, citizens and fishermen will appreciate the value of protecting precious natural resources. By raising awareness about the importance of mangroves in buffering the effects of climate change, Verde Profundo is also creating an ecosystem for fish and protecting the coral in the process.
Fundación Verde Profundo is the formalization of a way of life of activism with a commitment to the protection of marine resources. To learn more about the efforts being led in Boca Chica, you can find more details with partner Seacology, an island conservation organization.