What is a
A biosphere reserve is a site management category that includes terrestrial,
coastal, and marine ecosystems or any combination of them which have conditions
for nature conservation, sustainable development, and research, educational and
recreational activities. Its functions include:
1– Protect representative samples for the conservation of species, genetic
resources, ecosystems and natural landscapes.
2– Promote sustainable economic and human development with participatory
involvement of all stakeholders.
3– Support activities for sustainable development that are in harmony with
conservation and are related to research, education, and recreation by local and
Dominican Republic received the designation of its first
Biosphere Reserve (Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo) on November 6, 2002. This is the first
one of the
island, and number 412 in the world. Its designation was approved by the
International Coordinating Committee of the Man and the Biosphere (MaB) Program of the
United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo biosphere reserve is a reality thanks to the hard
work of over 40 professionals from many fields of knowledge, including
economics, sociology, anthropology, agriculture, biology, history, community
development, and theology, among others. Many institutions also participated;
these included the central government, local governments, civil society, UNESCO,
international cooperation institutions, civil society organizations, community
grass roots group, the church, and the Dominican MaB Commitee. To be
designated as a biosphere reserve it was necessary to fulfill a number of
prerequisites such as the presentation of a formal proposal by the Dominican
Government to UNESCO's headquarters in Paris as well as the establishment of a
National MaB Commitee.
The Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere
Reserve is located in the southwest of the Dominican Republic at geographic
coordinates 18°01'19" N; 71°34'34" W. It includes three biogeographic regions in the Caribbean: the ‘Hoya del Lago Enriquillo’, the
‘Sierra de Bahoruco’ and the ‘Procurrente de Barahona’. It also includes
islands and cays with high endemism.
three core areas of the Reserve are National Parks: 1- Jaragua National Park,
established in 1983, 2 - Bahoruco National Park, established in 1974, and 3-
Lake Enriquillo Natural Park, established in in 1974. These core areas
contain a great variety of natural ecosystems. Jaragua National Park is
comprised of carstic terraces and an
extensive marine area including islands and cays with a rich biodiversity and
regional endemism. Enriquillo
National Park encompasses a highly saline lake under sea level. Bahoruco
National Park is a great example of tropical highland ecosystem, extremely
important for bird conservation.
of the human communities in the Reserve area suffer from a lack of basic public
services, such as health, education, running water, and have a very vulnerable
economic situation. The main goal of the
reserve is to create alternative economic
incomes from renewal natural resources in agriculture production, organic
agriculture, ecotourism, research facilities and basic services.
Major habitats and land cover types
Dry forest characterized by
Acacia macracantha, Bursera simarouba, Pilosocereus polygonus and
Ziziphus rignoni; Deciduous evergreen forests including cloud forests (dominated by
Schefflera tremula, Podocarpus aristulatus and Brunellia
forests, semi-humid forests and riverine forests; pine forests dominated by
Pinus occidentalis; wetlands with Conocarpus erectus, Typha
domingensis, Batis maritima and Sesuvium portulacastrum; coastal, marine habitats including
seagrasses, coral reefs and mangroves with Rhizophora mangle, Avicennia
germinans, Laguncularia racemosa and Coconarpus erectus
– It has a considerable diversity of fresh and salt-water fishes, including
the largest Cyprinodon, Cyprinodon nichollsi.
– The highest amphibian diversity of the Dominican Republic, as well as a
grerat variety of reptiles.
– The most densely populated aggregation of juvenile hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata)
documented in the world.
– Contains other threatened sea turtles, such as leatherback (Dermochelys
coriacea) and green sea turtles (Chelonya mydas).
– It has the largest existing population of rhinoceros iguana (Cyclura cornuta).
– It has the remaining populations of Ricord's iguana (Cyclura ricordi),
a critically endangered species.
– It has the largest known population of the endangered snake (Alsophis anomalus).
– It has the smallest known amniote vertebrate in the world: the gekko Sphaerodactylus ariasae or
"salamanquejita de Jaragua".
- It supports the only remaining population of the American
crocodyle (Crocodylus acutus)
– Whitin the reserve, all endemic bird species of Hispaniola are found,
including nine that are endangered. Among these are:
the bay-breasted cuckoo (Hyetornis
rufigularis), La Selle's Thrush (Turdus swalesi), the chat tanager(Calyptophilus frugivorus),
the tanager (Calyptophilus
tertius) and the white-winged warbler (Xenoligea montana). Also
represented are numerous migratory birds, such Bicknell's thrush (Catharus bicknelli). There
are also historical records of the endemic Ridgway's hawk (Buteo ridgwayi),
although no recent sightings have been documented.
– Numerous aquatic and marine birds are present, including flamingoes,
spoonbills, ibises and egrets, among others. Also, It holds the largest
breeding colony of the sooty tern (Sterna fuscata).
– It has the largest breeding aggregations of the white crowned pigeon (Patagioenas
leucocephala) in the Caribbean.
– It has extensive seagrass beds that support the West Indian manatee (Trichechus
manatus manatus) as well as important populations of queen conch (Strombus
gigas) and spiny lobsters (Panulirus argus)
– It has important populations two endemic mammals: the extremely rare
Hispaniolan solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus) and the banana rat (Plagiodontia
– Unknown invertebrates known to science, suggested by recent discoveries of
new cave species, grasshoppers (Jaragua oviedensis and Acridurus
robustus), and scorpions such as Centuroides jaragua.
– It has a high plant diversity, with high endemism. Noteworthy species
include 19 species of economic importance and 48 threatened species.
Some of these species have a very reduced distribution, such as the aromatic
Jaragua's canelilla (Pimenta haitiensis), endemic palms, such as Cocothrinax
ekmanii and an extensive forest of the butttonwood mangrove Conocarpus erectus.
It also supports the best genetic representation of the native pine (Pinus
occidentalis) and the highest density of cactii in Hispaniola.
– In total, it holds 72 endangered animals, including some that are critically
Total area (in hectares)
(of which marine: 900)
area(s) when given
(of which marine: 11,200 )
above sea level)
Planning Committee (Consejo
de Planificación), presided by the Environmental and Natural Resources
region has a population of about 360,000 inhabitants. The average
population density is 63 persons per km2. The reserve
does not have inhabitants within its core areas (with the exception of
semi-permanent fishing camps in Jaragua). The Reserve's buffer zone has 1,443
By proposing the creation of the Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Reserve, the
Dominican government and the involved civil society institutions have assumed an
important commitment. The formal declaration of the reserve in 2002 is
only the start of the management of the area. Specifically, the
commitments assumed include:
– The formation of a MaB Committee that represents the most suitable
government institutions as well as civil society groups involved in
collaborative management, as well as community groups that are stakeholders of
the area's resources.
– Define the responsible institution or authority for the management of the
– Form a multisectorial committee for the management of buffer and transition
areas of the reserve.
– Conduct all above mentioned activities in a participative and transparent
06 Jul 2006
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