General Law of the Environment and Natural Resources
The approval of the General Law of the Environment and Natural Resources, No. 64-00, in August of 2000, began a new stage in the management and preservation of the environment and natural resources in the territory of the Dominican Republic.
The law, product of a consensus between the public and private sectors, gave birth to the creation of the Secretariat of State of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARN), highest managing body on the subject.
In addition, it defined the National System of Protected Areas, composed of 70 units of conservation classified in 11 management categories and subcategories. The conservation units protected, which cover 937,820 km2, join representative portions of the majority of the main ecosystems in Dominican territory and more than 90% of the species reported. Later, in 2004, the Sector Law of Protected Areas, No. 202-04, was approved.
Law 64-00 also established a wide agenda of reforms and actions, for which various secretariats of the State and city councils of the country take responsibility. In addition, it instituted the production of environmental statistics, for which a basic list of 108 variables was established. The agreed common list incorporates statistics on air, water (surface and underground), seas and coastal lands, lands/soils, biota, solid waste, urban environment, energy, natural disasters, agriculture, environmental management and expense and five basic reference statistics (urban and rural population, total territorial area, GDP, public spending and investment).
Defense of the Dominican Environment
In addition to the official institutions, local and international non-governmental organizations work actively in the defense of the Dominican environment and natural resources. The efforts are also oriented toward reaching the goals set in the area for the Millennium Development Goals.
A series of international agreements, which include the signing of the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer of 1985, impose multiple and demanding environmental regulations upon the official administration for the good of the country. Other legal initiatives are in the process of writing and/or approval, like the Law of Biodiversity and Protected Areas, sent to the National Congress.
Fundamental problems in the sector arise from the disappearance of native habitats in Haiti; the danger of extinction that at least 10% of all species in the country face; exposure to natural dangers, such as hurricanes, floods and droughts; the contamination of urban air, mainly from motor vehicle emissions and the generation of electric energy; and the degradation of the environment in the coastal areas, among other factors.
Invasive Alien Species
The Dominican Republic cannot remain on the sidelines with respect to the environment and the measures that must be adopted to achieve sustainable development. In this sense, one of the areas in which the country is interrelated with international organizations is in the area of flora y fauna, something which too often escapes the control and good intentions especially when it comes to what is known as invasive alien species. Invasive species are, together with habitat destruction, the main cause of the disappearance of plants and animals and destruction in our ecosystem.
Globalization is a phenomenon that not only affects commerce, industry, economy, security, politics or human migration flows. It also plays a role, and not exactly in a positive one, in nature. Plants and animals from other latitudes and areas on the earth can damage, in many cases irreversibly, native creatures in each region of the earth.
There are growing numbers of species that end up outside of their native habitat but manage to survive in their new surroundings. This extraordinary capacity for adapting has turned these creatures into a threat to the species that naturally inhabit an area as the latter must compete with the invaders for food and territory. The proliferation of invasive species, in addition to habitat destruction, is the main cause of the extinction of plants and animals. This, according to many case studies, is due to aggression against the native species, competition for resources, the process of hybridization and the transmission of illnesses carried by invading alien species.
Some can even change the way the ecosystem functions. But not all of the new species cause problems. In fact, many of the species used in agriculture and cattle-raising are alien species from other areas. Nevertheless, invasive species have become a huge global environmental concern. In Spain, one out of every four types of fish that populate the rivers and lakes are alien. Many plants and animals end up, by accidental or for commercial reasons, very far from their natural habitat. The introduction of the rabbit in Australia, which turned into a virtual plague, is one of the best-known examples of an invasive species. On the Iberian Peninsula, many exotic or foreign species of both flora and fauna have been introduced – intentionally or accidentally - and have caused serious damage to the native species of the area.
The Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network (IABIN) is responsible for undertaking Project 13N (Inter-American Invasive Information Network) with the goal of obtaining and facilitating the exchange of information on invasive species on the American continent. The project is financially supported by the United States Geological Survey Department.
The 13 countries involved in the 13N Project are: Argentina, Bahamas, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic and the USA. As such, the I3N group is comprised of an invasive species information node, forming a network on the American continent. Each country will develop an inventory and catalogue that will be made available on the Web. The objectives of this project include developing an information system to keep track of and document all available information on invasive species in each of the countries. To do this they will use four databases and provide Web access to these catalogues. The databases include:
- A list of species considered invasive
- A list of experts in the study of invasive species
- A list of projects on invasive species
- A list of available biological data and information
One of the main benefits of 13N Project in the Dominican Republic is the creation of the first exhaustive database on invasive species, researchers and projects underway or planned on this subject in the DR. This will allow us to become familiar with the seriousness and the extent of the problem in our country and to interact with other participating 13N countries in the rest of the world. It will also allow us to compile data to promote the rational management of invasive species, placing them in the hands of researchers, administrators of natural protected areas and other specialists from public and non-governmental agencies who are interested in this problem.
Invasive Alien Species in the Dominican Republic
The national, regional and international demand to introduce alien, exotic and potentially invasive species is on the rise. Many countries do not have organized information, essential to make safe and rational decisions on this important issue. Nor do many countries have the mechanisms in place to identify the rapidly growing numbers of invasive species, much less to control or to eradicate them.
According to a group of specialists in the area of invasive species from the UICN and Invasive Species Specialists Group (ISSG) in 2002, the introduction of non-native species has produced one of the most profound and irreversible impacts that humans have had on the natural ecosystem.
Taking into account, the huge importance of the effect of invasive species on the ecosystem, the National Office of Biodiversity and Wildlife undertook a pilot project, beginning in 2001, on invasive alien species in the Dominican Republic under the auspices of the Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network (IABIN).
Activities Carried Out
- Coordination of meetings with organizations that manage invasive species.
- Compilation of existing and current information on the subject.
- Application formulas for the use and dissemination of information.
- Preparation of the I3N Catalogue.
- Verification of information on applications and reports done in the field.
- Drawing up of final report.
- Overseeing the placement of information and content on the Web.
- Office of Wildlife
- National Aquarium
- Center for Marine Biology Research (CIBIMA)
- Center for Rice Production Research (CEDIA)
- Department of Livestock
- Department of Fisheries and Agriculture
- Department Forestry Research
- Department of Vegetable Health and Hygiene
- Enda Caribbean (plague management)
- Pro-Nature Fund (PRONATURA)
- Santo Domingo Fertilizers (FERSAN)
- Moscoso Puello Foundation
- Jaragua Group, Inc.
- Dominican Institute for Agricultural and Forestry Research
- Institute for Microbiology and Para-Psychology of the UASD
- National Botanical Garden
- Dominican Agro-Business Junta (JAD)
- National Museum of Natural History of Santo Domingo
- Catalogue of invasive species in the Dominican Republic
- List of experts on invasive species
- List and contacts for organizations involved in the management of invasive species in the country.
- List of finished projects or projects underway by the organizations
- Placement on the Web of information produced or in progress
Institutions that responded
Total of proposed species
Total of pre-classified species
Total de especialistas
Of the 138 species reported as invasive, 59 of them are plants, 4 are fungus, 38 are invertebrates, 15 fish, 2 amphibian, 3 reptiles, 6 birds and 11 mammals. Of the total number of invasive species (227) listed in the database of the Invasive Species Specialists Group (ISSG), we have 23 in our country. We also have 17 of the 100 most invasive species in the world, also catalogued by the ISSG.