Country Profiles

Dominican Republic - Country Profile

Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Located in the Caribbean Islands hotspot, the Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. Together with Cuba, these 2 islands are the largest contributors to Caribbean biodiversity. The Dominican Republic is characterized by a high level of endemism, particularly with respect to reptile species (there are 5 species per 2,000 km2), vascular plants and bird species. The country also boasts of ecosystems that are unique to the Caribbean, such as Lake Enriquillo (the largest lake and lowest elevation in the region) and the region’s tallest mountain peak which rises to 2,000 metres above sea level.

The country’s ecosystems are being lost through habitat destruction for the most part, influenced by the expansion of agricultural and livestock production, tourism development (mostly beach) and mining. Between 1993 and 1997, the agricultural and tourism sectors grew at an average annual rate of 5% and 15%, respectively. These rates have continued to increase. Coastal marine ecosystems, especially the country’s beaches, are of great economic significance. Tourism represents a major source of foreign exchange, estimated at US $ 4.4 billion annually and contributing over 8.4% to the GDP.

In 2010, the Dominican Council for Fisheries and Aquaculture determined that 98% of fish stocks were being managed within safe limits. Yet grouper populations and certain species of mollusks, arthropods and echinoderms are in decline nowadays, and populations of sea urchins and sea cucumbers severely impacted by illegal fishing activities. Commercial fishing contributed 0.30% to the GDP in 2012. Another important ecosystem service relates to water production, mainly for irrigation, as well as for drinking water and energy production (36 hydroelectric dams exist in the country).

Agricultural expansion has been the primary cause of forest loss, followed by timber extraction for various purposes, wildfires, construction and expansion of roads, highways, ports, cities and other infrastructure. Forests presently cover 39.2% of the country. Data collected in 1996, 2003, 2012 on the country’s 4 broad forest types (coniferous, broadleaf, dry, wetlands) reveal gains and losses in coverage, according to forest type, however an overall increase at the end of this period. It is especially important to discriminate between natural and reforested land when reviewing the data (the country recognizes that more in-depth study on natural forests is required). This data highlights that the status of broadleaf cloud forests is particularly worrisome and, if the current rate of loss continues, this species will no longer exist in approximately 11 years. It is also believed that an increase in forest coverage may be partially related to cover produced by invasive species.

The National System of Protected Areas (SINAP) represents 25% of the country’s territory, including a small marine area of 2,655.54 km2. In spite of this high percentage of coverage, there exists a low level of management effectiveness however initiatives are currently in process to address this issue.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The fifth national report received in October 2014 confirms that the main threats to biodiversity have not changed since the fourth national report was prepared in 2010. They can be classified into 4 broad categories: modification, fragmentation and loss of natural habitats; overexploitation of species; climate change; and the introduction of alien invasive species. In addition to these main areas, pollution due to the use of agrochemicals warrants mention (although regulations have been developed in this respect, certain banned chemicals continue to be used). Six main underlying threats have been identified as: population growth; poverty and inequality; situation regarding land tenure; topographical conditions; inadequate fiscal and development policies; and inadequate forest valuation.

Land management plans and strengthened environmental impact assessments are required for regulating activities. Hurricanes, floods and landslides that have occurred in the country since 1998 have produced enormous losses (Tropical Storm Noel in 2007 alone produced US $ 439 million in losses). A major cause identified by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) is the mismanagement of watersheds and biodiversity resources.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The “Estrategia Nacional de Conservación y Uso Sostenible de la Biodiversidad y Plan de Acción (2011-2020)” constitutes the country’s first NBSAP. Aligned with the global framework, 20 national targets have been developed for the short, medium and long terms, as have milestones and indicators. The Ecosystem Approach is promoted in planning processes. The NBSAP is linked to implementation of the National Development Strategy (2010-2030) which was adopted by law in 2012. The NBSAP indicates that, by 2016, actions to strengthen aspects related to biodiversity, under the fourth strategic objective of the National Development Strategy on sustainable natural resource management, will be carried out as necessary. Women were highly involved in the NBSAP development process. The business sector (e.g. Bon Agroindustrial and Fundación Propa-Gas) is engaged in numerous biodiversity conservation activities through its association with RENAEPA, the national non-profit network promoting the integration of the business sector in sustainable natural resource management processes. Progress made towards achieving the NBSAP’s targets and the global biodiversity agenda is highlighted in the next sections.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The National Plan Action for Environmental Education has been implemented.

As a result of conservation and public awareness-raising activities, there are indications that the rare and critically endangered Hispaniolan Hawk (Buteo ridgwayi) is recovering although its status remains highly vulnerable. Special conservation programmes have also been developed for the endangered Rock Iguana (Cyclura spp.) and the Amazon Parrot (Amazona spp.), among other species.

Studies conducted by the National Museum of Natural History and the National Botanical Garden have led to the description of 11 new species for science, 24 new animal records and more than 20 new plant records.

Activities are underway to establish a regulatory framework for genetic resources. The National Congress is currently reviewing aspects related to the ratification of the Nagoya Protocol on ABS. The country also intends to develop an inventory on traditional knowledge.

Research on genetic diversity is being strengthened through the National Fund for Innovation and Scientific and Technological Development of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology, and encompasses projects on bioprospecting.

The economic values of protected areas have been determined. A budget is available to undertake the same activities with respect to biodiversity, with studies already having been conducted on the economic values and uses of species.

The Dominican Republic is currently carrying out activities to achieve certification in the UN-REDD Programme.

A project to establish a biological corridor between the scientific reserves of Loma Quita Espuela and Guaconejo has been very successful in protecting the population of Bicknell's Thrush. Through this project, activities on the selling of carbon credits have also been initiated.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The General Law on Environmental and Natural Resources was adopted in 2000 and is the primary instrument for promoting biodiversity mainstreaming in other sectors, including the conduct of environmental impact assessments.

As previously mentioned, the National Development Strategy (2010-2030) and the NBSAP (2011-2020) are mutually supportive. In parallel with the preparation of the NBSAP, the National Red List of Threatened Species of Flora and Fauna and the National Strategy on Invasive Alien Species were also prepared, and the Endemic and Native Seeds Bank established.

The revised Sectoral Law on Protected Areas establishes a policy on the co-management of protected areas, as well as revised regulations for establishing private protected areas. The National System of Protected Areas (SINAP) has been strengthened through the implementation of SINAP’s Master Plan (2010-2030) and the establishment of an Endowment Fund for Protected Areas. A process has also been initiated to prepare a Financial Sustainability Plan for SINAP as well to train persons in the production of business plans.

In 2007, the Caribbean Biodiversity Corridor was created by the Ministries of Environment of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

A National Biodiversity Committee has been established by Presidential decree. In addition to measures previously outlined which aim to strengthen the National System for Protected Areas (SINAP), guidelines have been developed for establishing a National System for Biodiversity Monitoring.