Puntacana Ecological Foundation

To protect and restore the natural resources of the Punta Cana region and contribute to the sustainable development of the Dominican Republic
Jan 12, 2015

December 2014

Phase 1 Inaugurated! On to Phase 2…

The Puntacana Ecological Foundation and the rest of the Fuentes de Vida (FDV) coalition are proud to announce that the constructed wetlands wastewater treatment system was officially inaugurated on Sunday, November 2nd. In attendance was the Neighborhood Association of Domingo Maiz, representatives of Peace Corps Dominican Republic, community leaders from other barrios throughout the municipality of Veron, local businesses and other organizations involved in the initiative, and of course, the community members of Domingo Maiz. The inauguration not only served to commemorate the completion of the region’s first public waste water treatment system but also to empower other communities in the area to take similar action towards improving their living conditions. During the inauguration the FDV coalition showcased a short documentary, called Fuentes de Vida: Desarrollo Comunitario Integral, which clearly describes the project’s history, mission, and execution in a concise and engaging narrative. The documentary was produced by the Dominican Consortium for Competitive Tourism and World Television with funding from the Partners of America Foundation and can be seen on Youtube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpHbz91nqf0

More recently, on December 5th, concertgoers and volunteers from the not-for-profit foundation, Positive Legacy (the largest independent backer of the FDV initiative), volunteered for a service day in Domingo Maíz. December’s service day continued the community works started during the March 2014 day of service including a community wide clean up, painting informative murals next to the constructed wetlands, and hosting a community celebration with local musicians playing typical meringue and bachata music. Community turn out was great with the youth of the community comprising the majority of the workforce. We look forward to hosting another service day with Positive Legacy at the end of January 2015.

Looking ahead to 2015, the Fuentes de Vida coalition will seek to continue working with the neighborhood association of Domingo Maiz to implement a potable water system (Phase 2 of the FDV initiative). In the rapidly developing municipality of Veron, change can often seem to be the only constant. In keeping with this sense of change and progress elections are to be held shortly to elect new members to the neighborhood association of Domingo Maiz and form a new water committee in charge of overseeing the maintenance and operation of the water systems – before beginning construction on the potable water system. The Puntacana Ecological Foundation will help consult and assist the neighborhood association throughout these organizational processes to better ensure a smooth operation and adoption once construction of the potable water system is complete.

In closing, on behalf of the Puntacana Ecological Foundation and the rest of the Fuentes de Vida Coalition we would like to thank all of you who have donated to the project to date. Moving forward we hope we can count on your continued support for this pioneering project and hope you share this GlobalGiving Page with anyone you think may be interested in learning about this project. We wish you the very best in 2015!

Dec 9, 2014

December 5, 2014

We are extremely excited to let all of you know what has happened since our last report. The last of the hawks that were returning to the release site to feed have become completely independent. For the last several months we have focused our energy on monitoring all of the hawks in Punta Cana. This has become an increasingly challenging task as the Punta Cana Ridgway’s Hawk population has more than quadrupled in the last year. Fortunately, we have several dedicated Dominicans who have made the hawks their priority and are following their movements on a daily basis.

The most exciting news is the formation of several new pairs. These new pairs come as a direct result of the last year’s releases and also the remaining unpaired males, one of which has been a bachelor since he was released in 2011. The first hawks to start acting as though they might pair up were Blue-44 and Red-22. Blue 44 was the first Ridgway’s Hawk to hatch in the wild in Punta Cana from our first pair to form back in 2013. Red-22 was released this past year and shortly after she became independent, we started seeing her and B-44 together. In the last few months these interactions have become stronger and we are most certain that they have formed a pair bond. We are hopeful that they will attempt to breed this upcoming season!!

Veteran male Black-AR and female Red-24 have also been seen consistently seen together for the last few months. Other potential pairs of hawks are starting to form and so far it looks like we may have as many as six pairs of Ridgway’s Hawks in the Puntacana area for the 2015 breeding season. Something very important to point out is that many of these birds are favoring territories in Puntacana’s upscale residential areas. There is certainly plenty of undisturbed woodland habitat for Ridgway’s Hawks in Punta Cana, but it seems that they prefer the open forest edge habitat that the residential areas provide. The hawks certainly use the pristine forests of areas such as Ojos Indigenous for hunting and to escape the hot sun in the middle of the day, but so far all of our Ridgway’s Hawk nests have been in territories in residential areas of the area. This is great news as it is a testament to the adaptability of Ridgway’s Hawks and this kind of adaptability will only mean greater success for the birds’ future. It is also good news for residents of Puntacana, since these top predators will certainly help control some unwanted pests such as rats and mice.

In other news, our education program is stronger than ever. In just the last three months we have already reached more individuals than we did in all the rest of 2014. This is the result of all the hard work that our Education Coordinator Marta Curti has put in over the last several years and some great collaborations we have put together between The Peregrine Fund, the Puntacana Ecological Foundation, Fundacion Propagas, and the Santo Domingo Zoo. Our ultimate goal is nationwide awareness and a cultural shift in the attitude towards raptors, but we are making this change one person at a time.

Finally, we have been working over the last few months to purchase and import retrofitting devices to help make power lines in Puntacana safe for birds. We have just received all of the parts we ordered and now have only to put them to work. This task will be accomplished by Grupo Puntacana over the next couple months and before the 2015 releases begin. This action will go a long way, not only to protect Ridgway’s Hawks, but also many other species who make Puntacana their home.

By the time we submitt our next report, I hope to be telling you more about the newly formed pairs of hawks and also a bit about the exciting field work we are conducting in Los Haitises National Park.

Sep 23, 2014

September 18, 2014 Report

Successful execution of the wastewater treatment
Successful execution of the wastewater treatment

As we stated in our last report The Puntacana Ecological Foundation and the rest of the Fuentes de Vida coalition are proud to announce the successful execution of the wastewater treatment portion of the FDV project. This has solidified three years of planning and trust building with the community of Domingo Maíz. Having seen the ability of the FDV coalition to produce results, the residents are now eagerly pushing for an effective solution to another basic need: access to safe potable water.

Since applying for funding from last year the Fuentes de Vida (FDV) Coalition has successfully constructed the province’s first community-scale wastewater treatment system in the community of Domingo Maíz. Throughout the approximately six month construction of the wastewater treatment system, the community of Domingo Maíz exceeded expectations adapting to an intensive and disruptive public works project in the heart of their community. The residents of Domingo Maíz living in the treatment area report several immediately noticeable benefits of the constructed wetlands system, namely the absence of effluent water pooling in public areas and a significant reduction in foul odors.

Sustained education/awareness on the importance of wastewater treatment, a complex topic to discuss even in the most developed communities, will continue as the principal long term initiative of FDV.  During a recent community wide meeting the vast majority of community members demonstrated that they fully grasp the method of FDV – first treat the sources of contamination and then deliver safe potable water – and continued to support the project’s methodology. The community meeting also produced a strong push from the residents to advance with the potable water phase of the project.

Currently there are approximately 12 private wells providing water to the residents of Domingo Maíz. Water is pumped up from the ground into large tanks on the roof of the well owner’s house. Many problems currently arise from this system not least of which are: a lack of consistent chlorination, preferential/non-transparent pricing and a lack of water if the owner is absent for any stretch of time and thus not able to fill the tanks. While well water is not typically used for drinking, the residents of Domingo Maíz depend on this water for a myriad of activities which can still result in water borne illnesses such as cleaning and preparing foods, washing dishes, washing clothes, and bathing.

The principal objective of the potable water phase of the Fuentes de Vida project is to implement a centralized aqueduct system which will allow for more consistent water supply, greater community oversight and more consistent/transparent chlorination procedures. In order to achieve these desired outcomes the community of Domingo Maíz is currently forming the Water Committee, whose principal function will be to implement and execute the monthly quota system in order to provide the necessary start up funding and cover the subsequent operational costs of both the potable and wastewater systems. In addition the committee will oversee the operation of the potable water system including: regular maintenance, chlorination, closing off connections for those residents who do not pay their quotas, etc. the committee consists of a president, secretary, treasurer and a plumber. The Neighborhood Association of Domingo Maíz will appoint each member of the Water Committee for a term of one year.

The potable water phase of the Fuentes de Vida project involves several ambitious objectives both in terms of community organization as well as system functionality. As for this Global Giving page we ask that any and all potential donors continue to consider this project for their donations as we still need your help in raising the necessary funds for the potable water.

Domingo Maiz community leaders
Domingo Maiz community leaders

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