The Dominican Republic has put in place a number of measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 including a national curfew that prohibits all traffic and movement of people. This situation has affected our Coral Restoration program collaborators, limiting their activities and working hours.
We do have some great news for corals! We're very happy to announce our new Eba project: CoralRestore DR!
The goal of CoralRestore DR is to reduce climate risks and build climate resilience of the Punta Cana community and ultimately other communities across the DR and the Caribbean region.
The ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) approach taken by the CoralRestore DR project involves protection, direct restoration, and rehabilitation of coral reef ecosystems; reductions in fishing and reef pressure by enforcing conservation regulations and involving fishermen in employment opportunities outside of current fishing activities; and scaling of the intervention model supported by this project. Under this general approach, four types of interventions will be carried out: (i) coral nurseries and outplantings; (ii) local community engagement; (iii) development of ecosystem goods and services; and (iv) replication and scaling of the coral restoration model.
All interventions will be carried out in the EZ-SMS, located in the PC region, in the municipality of Higuey, in La Altagracia Province along the eastern coast of the DR. The near-shore environment along the PC coast includes extensive coral reef ecosystems providing ecosystem services. These reef ecosystems are linked to a wide range of important economic activities benefiting local communities, such as tourism and fishing.
The criteria used to select the specific project site are based on vulnerability assessments of the EZ-SMS a protected area declared in 2009, composed of 800,000 ha and covering about 120 km of coastline. Fundación Grupo Puntacana is a member of the co-management team for the entire Sanctuary, focusing on the Eastern Zone (about 140,000 ha, covering 20 km of coast). This co-management arrangement is contained in a 25-year agreement with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and is a unique public-private collaboration in the Caribbean. It is based on a joint management plan of the Sanctuary divided into three zones: South, Center, and East. This marine co-management agreement is the first of its kind in the DR and creates incentives for private sector investment and involvement in management of coastal resources.
The full achievement of ecological and social resilience through this type of comprehensive project approach is predicted to take a minimum of 5-8 years. This three-year project aims to achieve important preliminary outcomes and lay the foundation for even more significant outcomes in the follow-on years. Therefore, it is important to describe in the Theory of Change (ToC) the short-medium-long term plan, and at the same time create a viable platform for increased private sector involvement and investment in protection of coastal ecosystems by demonstrating the value of these ecosystems to hotels and the tourism economy.
We're looking forward to having our Coral Restoration program running at full capacity in a couple of weeks. Will keep you posted!