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Nature Canada’s work in the Dominican Republic and Cuba
The Caribbean Islands are one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, while also one of the areas in the Americas that is most affected by poverty.
There are three critically important areas in Cuba and the Dominican Republic for many species of plants and animals endemic to the Caribbean as well as for many migratory bird species:
- Delta del Cauto Wildlife Refuge, Cuba;
- Turquino-La Bayamesa National Park, Cuba; and
- Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve, Dominican Republic.
Although these three areas are all designated as protected areas by the Cuban and Dominican governments respectively, they are nonetheless under serious growing threats from human activities.
The Cuban and Dominican communities living in and around these important areas have basic needs including food security, clean water, fuel and education. Predominantly, they have no choice but to base their subsistence on unsustainable uses of natural resources in fragile environments that are thus being degraded. In turn, the degradation of these natural areas increasingly reduces the ability of these communities to sustain themselves. Deforestation and ensuing land degradation diminish the ecological services these natural areas provide to these communities and to others beyond. Climate change is increasingly exacerbating both land degradation and the consequent impoverishment of the communities that rely on these natural resources.
The Project and its Successes
Starting in 2007, Nature Canada joined forces with our partners Grupo Jaragua in the Dominican Republic and Centro Nacional de Areas Protegidas (CNAP) in Cuba, to simultaneously address poverty and conservation by undertaking an integrated conservation and development project with local communities at critical biodiversity areas.
Nature Canada was proud to be able to secure financial support from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to work with Grupo Jaragua in the Dominican Republic and Centro Nacional de Areas Protegidas (CNAP) in Cuba (as well as Société Audubon Haïti for additional work in Haiti) to promote sustainable livelihoods and reduce impacts on these critical biodiversity areas.
Because of this initiative, people in dozens of rural communities the Dominican Republic and Cuba gained technical and material capacity to improve their lives by adopting environmentally sustainable economic activities including agro-forestry, eco-tourism, and organic poultry production. As a result of this initiative, the people in these communities are also now taking steps to mitigate the effects of climate change by avoiding deforestation, pursuing fire and erosion control and protecting local watersheds.
Our conservation efforts in the Dominican Republic & Cuba were made possible with the generous support of Nature Canada members and the Canadian International Development Agency.
Read more about Nature Canada’s other international conservation efforts here.