The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources is designing a national strategy of payment for environmental services that will be implemented starting next year, with the purpose of encouraging communities to adopt practices that benefit the conservation of water sources, forests and biodiversity.
This is a mechanism for financial retribution to an individual, farmer or community that protects forests and agroforestry systems, ensuring a land use that guarantees the maintenance or provision of one or more environmental services.
A workshop offered by experts from Costa Rica’s National Forest Financing Fund was the starting point for the formulation of the strategy for payments for environmental services, a management instrument that is established in Law 44-18 of September 3, 2018.
The Vice Minister of Forestry Resources, José Elías González, announced that to create the Strategy for the Implementation of Payments for Environmental Services in the Dominican Republic 2024-2034, governmental and non-governmental actors will be consulted, including users of the Payment for Environmental Water Services Pilot Project of the Yaque del Norte River Basin.
This project has contributed to the regulation of flows for human consumption, irrigation and hydroelectric generation, as well as the organic and chemical decontamination of the basin’s rivers.
“We want it to be an open participation, not only of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources”, said the official, after explaining that, since the 80’s the country has advanced because it has a coverage that reaches almost 81%, adding coffee and cocoa plantations, which constitute 43%, with that of forests, which reach 38%.
However, he revealed that the challenge in implementing the strategy is “how to make the country’s development compatible with the need to have forests, well located for forest production, that provide the environmental services we need.”
He explained that most of the forests are on properties that do not belong to the State and are dedicated to some line of national production, so proposing payment for environmental services is the most suitable instrument to preserve the water and oxygen needed for everyone’s well-being.
González pointed out that the payment for environmental services is one of the three strategies assumed by the State to increase the country’s forest cover. The other two are: the planting certificate with the right to cut and sustainable forest management.
During the opening of the workshop, Gilmar Navarrete, director of Costa Rica’s National Forestry Financing Fund, emphasized that this is only the beginning of a journey that requires “being very patient, because the processes do not happen immediately”.
“Today we begin this journey and I ask you to contribute all your knowledge and capacity so that this continues to grow for the benefit of all,” said Navarrete.
Ivette Regino, representing the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), expressed that supporting the initiative, hand in hand with the REDDOM Foundation -Rural Economic Development Dominicana, is a wise decision.
“We have the need to support the implementation of payment for environmental services. And, obviously, we have the resources, the desire to move forward and establish this link with the different actors to make it a dream come true,” he said.
The training was sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Forest Service, the National Forestry Financing Fund of Costa Rica and the Dominican Rural Economic Development Foundation (REDDOM).
The workshop is part of the Costa Rica-Dominican Republic Bilateral Project, which is promoted by the Ministries of Economy, Planning and Development, and Environment and Natural Resources.