Visitor center in Guaraguao, where Leaf Bayahibe is planned

PERMIT THREATENS COTUBANAMA NATIONAL PARK, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

On January 21st, an forest area inside Cotubanamá National Park (formerly Del Este) was bulldozed to make way for tourist resort project called  Leaf Bayahibe in the Guaraguao sector, south of Bayahibe (La Altagracia Province). Especifically, the project is located on the coastal stretch of the park that suffered a changed of management category in the protected area law of 2004 from IUCN category II (National Park) to IV (Protected Landscape) motivated by the same Spanish corporation acting today, Globalia, owned by Juan José (Pepe) Hidalgo (see more details here). 

However, the area kept being managed as a sector of the national park, and a Ministry of the Environment Resolution from 2018 explicitly banned the construction of permanent infrastructure inside the area. The area´s management also continued as before, as a sector of Cotubanamá National Park. Furthermore, the cleared area is located where the visitor center for the Park is. This center would be relocated to give way to the new resort installations, which according to key local informants includes a paved road reaching as far south as Palmilla.

UPDATE. On 28 January of 2020, the DR´s Presiden´ts office ordered suspension of construction work of the Leaf Bayahibe complex and appointed a commission to ¨research the bounaries of the protected area.¨ Read here the joint Declaration of the Coallition for the Defense of Protected Areas on this new development.

Forest area cleared in Guaraguao on 21st January 2020, Foto: Adolfo López

Due to similar attacks on the Protected Area System in the DR, in 2003 the Coallition for the Defense of Protected Areas of the DR yo defend them. Then, the Coalition´s advocacy was able to safeguard the existing protected areas by the approval in the Sectoral Protected Area Law in 2004.   

In 2019, the Coallition regroups and strengthens to face this new threat on Cotubanamá National Park, first in response to rumors that the Ministry of the Environment of the DR had issued terms of reference  for an environmental permit and then, when the forest clearing started and getting hold of a copy the issued permit. (Download this kml file to see the place on  Google Earth).

Grupo Jaragua is part of the Coallition since its inception, as well as (but many are joining everyday):  UASD Environmental Comission (CAUASD), the Academy of Sciences of the DR, the National Environmental Assembly (ANA), Acción Verde,  SOSAmbienteRD,  Latin American Agroecological Movement (MAELA),  Macorís Verde, Universo Verde, Campamento Loma Miranda, Insituto of Lawyers for the Protection of the Environment (INSAPROMA), and the National Council Against Climate Change  (CNLCCC). 

Follow the hashtag #SOSCotubanamá  in social media, as well as the instagram account @coalicion.areasprotegidas.rd (see here our press release  from 20200123 and  from 20200127).

Press conference of the Coallition on 23 January 2020 at the Academy of Sciences of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo.
View of the forest that will be affected. Cotubanamá National Park is one of the areas of highest biodiversity in Hispaniola and the Caribbean Region, being both an Important Area for Birds and Biodiversity (IBA) and a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) de las zonas de mayor biodiversidad de la región este de la RD