International Day of Tropical Forests: learn about five actions developed by the Government to preserve them
The Government, through the Ministry of Environment, develops different public policies and actions aimed at achieving the conservation, protection and restoration of the country’s forests, of which five are announced for the commemoration of the International Day of Tropical Forests, which is celebrated on June 22.
Tropical forests are ecosystems that provide a wide range of environmental services that directly influence the maintenance of life, providing various benefits and welfare to society as the regulation of the hydrological cycle, drought control and its effects.
According to the National Forest Inventory of 2021, the Dominican Republic has a forest cover of 2,055,473 hectares, representing 42.7% of the country, of which there are 37.7% with forests and 5% of agroforestry crops of coffee and cocoa. Similarly, it indicates that 86% of the forests are tropical forests (22.6% dry forests), and that most of these forests are in secondary forest conditions in full growth phase.
There are seven types of forests in the country: Dense Coniferous Forest, Open Coniferous Forest, Subtropical Humid Forest, Subtropical Subhumid Forest, Subtropical Cloud Forest, Dry Forest and Wetland Forests (mangrove and drago), which are being threatened by the conversion of forests to farmland, slash and burn cultivation, grazing and infrastructure, and to a lesser extent the production of firewood, charcoal and timber.
Faced with this reality, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources is developing the following public policies and actions:
1. Strengthening of the National System of Forest Rangers.
Among the works developed for the protection of the forests is the project to strengthen the National System of Forest Rangers, which has resulted in the incorporation of 150 forest rangers, who carry out actions aimed at the protection and conservation of the forests. These forest rangers comply with a training program and are located in the areas where the main forest poles are located, such as the province of Dajabón and its municipality of Restauración, San José de Las Matas and the Sierra, as well as Monte Plata, Jarabacoa, San Juan and Elías Piña.
The importance of this system is that its members carry out their work within the forests, mainly in preventive activities.
2. Establishment of forest plantations
Also, the Ministry through the Vice-Ministry of Forest Resources implements a reforestation program in the main watersheds of the country, with the objective of ordering and protecting forestry lands, recovering areas and ecosystems that have been degraded, as well as promoting the sustainable use of natural resources in priority sub-basins and micro-basins to contribute to the protection of water recharge areas, and to promote effective management in terms of prevention and control of degrading agents such as pests, diseases and forest fires.
To carry out these activities, the ministry has a plant production network of 52 nurseries nationwide, where plants for reforestation are produced. The goal of this program is to reforest about eight million plants per year in the watersheds.
3. National Fire Control and Prevention Program
Likewise, the Ministry executes the National Fire Control and Prevention Program, under the guidelines of the fire control and prevention strategy for the year 2020-2030, formulated by the institution. In addition, the actions for the attention of forest fires are carried out through the National Fire Management and Management Program, a dependency of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.
Among the activities carried out for the implementation of this program are prevention, investigation, detection, monitoring, control and restoration, for which the ministry has a National Forest Fire Detection and Monitoring System, which includes a detection center and eleven detection towers located at strategic points, both inside and outside protected areas and in forested areas.
4. Forest Pest and Disease Control Program.
It also develops the Forest Disease Control Program at the national level in a preventive manner through the Ministry’s Forest Health Department in order to establish general forest health and sanitation guidelines and actions that contribute to the conservation of forest resources, knowledge of native and exotic entomofauna, as well as agents that cause diseases of both biotic and abiotic origin, which may cause a decrease in production, and reduce mortality due to forest pests and diseases as much as possible.
5. Strengthening of the National Protected Areas System
To strengthen the National System of Protected Areas, the Ministry is implementing a comprehensive program for the recovery of protected areas, including the restoration of beaches and coastal areas. Thanks to this project, the southern slope of the Valle Nuevo National Park, a protected area considered “The Mother of Waters” because of its importance for the country’s water resources, has been completely controlled.
Also, through this initiative, 26.08 kilometers of coastal areas will be restored by 2021.