Hispaniola Ornithology Society (SOH Conservación), which manages the Dominican Republic’s Sierra de Baoruco National Park with the Environment Ministry and other private entities, stressed that the Government should seek alternatives (such as relocation, compensation and/or guidance on conservation) for the squatters and farmers in the protected area, which is shared by the country’s poorest provinces: Baoruco [also spelled Bahoruco], Independencia and Pedernales:
SOH director Jorge Luis Brocca said the State has created several protected areas in those provinces, but no alternative has been provided for the socioeconomic development of its inhabitants. “In these very poor areas they set aside land to cultivate. And it’s not just that people live, but live with dignity. We must develop other alternatives for these people.” According to the Economy Ministry, Pedernales is the second province has the country’s highest poverty rate, at 74.6%; Baoruco, is third, with 74.5% and Independencia fourth, with 72.9%.
Brocca said the government’s greatest challenge is to relocate people and create more jobs for the people who have rights because their grandparents lived inside the protected area before being declared a Park and were never compensated since. He estimates that 60 families live within the Sierra Baoruco protected area and more than 100 families farm the land, in the villages Los Arroyos, La Altagracia and Las Mercedes.
The environmentalist says that in the park’s outskirts, but still in Sierra de Baoruco, farming [may be allowed for activities] such as planting coffee, cocoa and apiculture, which preserve the area, reforest it and allow the economic development of surrounding areas. There is also a potential for ecotourism, but it needs more investment in infrastructure. [. . .]
[Photo by Guillermo van der Linde; see http://do.geoview.info/sierra_de_bahoruco_national_park,55366945p ]