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Dominican Republic

Location of the Project
Location of the Project

Title of IWEco National sub-Project

Integrated Management of the Biodiversity, Freshwater and Land Resources of the Higüamo River Watershed and its Associated Coastal Zone, including Mitigating Climate Change Impacts.


The Dominican Republic’s IWEco National sub-Project focuses on the Higüamo River watershed and associated coastal zone. It aims to conserve, protect and guarantee the sustainable use of the water, land and biodiversity resources of the Higüamo River watershed and its estuarine zone to ensure the region’s future economic development, for the benefit of current and future generations, and to protect and rehabilitate selected ecosystems of the watershed and its associated coastal zone from further damaging anthropogenic activities and the effects of global warming.

Dominican Republic

The primary focus of theproject is the conservation and sustainable use of the watershed’s biodiversity.A significant number of species are associated with the mangroves of the Higüamo River watershed.

The lack of appropriate policy, legal and institutional frameworks undermine the implementation of an integrated management plan for the watershed and its associated coastal area that is a prerequisite for the conservation and sustainable use of the watershed’s biodiversity and other natural resources. Further, this cannot be achieved without also addressing the serious water and land pollution problems that are the greatest threat to the sustainability of the biodiversity of this important region. At the same time, in order to achieve the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, a comprehensive, cross-sectoral approach is needed that effectively engages stakeholders by producing concrete benefits leading to improved livelihoods, including improved provision of ecosystem services, greater economic opportunities and a healthier environment in which to live.

The project strategy centreson the following approaches and activities:

  • Assessing problems and identifying priorities for improving the management of the land, water and biodiversity resources of the Higüamo River watershed and its associated coastal zone, taking into account climate change, sensitive ecosystems and ecosystem services;
  • Planning the integrated management of the Higüamo River watershed and estuarine zone;
  • Achieving the socio-economic welfare of selected communities of the Higüamo River watershed through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, as well as environmental restoration measures for improved wastewater management, increased access to safe water and enhanced ecosystem services;
  • Strengthening of policies and legal and institutional frameworks for sustainable land management, integrated management of water resources and the management of ecosystem services, taking into account climate change; and
  • Sharing of project information, lessons learned and good practices, and promoting project replication.

In addition to its primary focus on the conservation and sustainable use of the watershed’s biodiversity, the Government of the Dominican Republic has indicated that 27,574.12 hectares, or 275.4 km2,of existing forest cover in the Higüamo River watershed will be protected and sustainably managed through the project. Moreover, the project will support the reforestation of 500 hectares, largely mangroves that are the habitat for a great deal of biodiversity, including endemic species. These actions will provide significant contributions to mitigating the impacts of climate change by maintaining 965,097 tons of retained carbon in existing forests and sequestering another 1,750 through reforestation, for a total of 966,847 tons of retained carbon.

Status of Project

The Dominican Republic’s National sub-Project was launched on 1st April 2019.

Project Objectives and Impact

Project Objectives and Impact

Dominican Republic National sub-Project Background

Please click here to download the Dominican Republic National sub-Project Background document.

Progress and updates on Dominican Republic National sub-Project

National Focal Point

Lidibert González
Director of Water, Vice-Ministry of Soil and Water

National Project Coordinator

Yesley Ramirez
Coordinadora de Proyecto, GEF IWEco.RD

Snapshots of Biodiversity in the Dominican Republic:

Poster Introduction and Featured Species

Download posterDominican Republic - Snapshots of Biodiversity

The biodiversity of the Dominican Republic is one of the richest in the world.  To date, approximately 2,830 species of endemic fauna and 2,050 species of endemic plants have been identified.  Much of this biodiversity is contained in the Higüamo River watershed and associated coastal zone, the geographical focus of IWEco.DR.

In the Higuamo River watershed and estuarine zone, five types of terrestrial and wetland ecosystems predominate:

  • Semi-humid broadleaf forests,
  • Humid broadleaf forests,
  • Broadleaf shrubs,
  • Mangroves and
  • Marshes with brackish water dominated by herbaceous plants.

Two important protected areas are within the watershed’s estuarine zone; both established in 2009:  the Laguna Mallen Wildlife Refuge, in the estuary, protects many species of egrets, migratory ducks and other native and endemic species, and the Higüamo River Wildlife Reserve “Fuente de Oro”, which is dominated by mangroves that are habitat for a large number of native, endemic and migratory species of birds, as well as other estuarine, coastal and marine species. Of the 221 species of vascular plants identified in the Higüamo River Wildlife Refuge during a field study undertaken in April 2011, 196 are native species and 10 are endemic.

1. Hispaniolan Giant tree Frog

Scientific Name: Osteopilus vastus

Photo credit: Dario Flores

Location: Dominican Republic, 2014

Brief description:The Hispaniolan Giant Tree Frog is endemic to Hispaniola, found in both the Dominican Republic and Haiti. It is patchily distributed in across the island. It is primarily found in mesic broadleaf forests but also in a range of agricultural habitats, such as cacao and coffee plantations and pastures. They can be found high in the canopy (up to 15 m) and are also often found along creeks and streams; males call from trees overhanging running water. Eggs may be deposited in running water.  The species is threatened by habitat loss caused by degradation of streams and deforestation.

2. Bay Cedar (Sp. Cuabilla de costa)

Scientific name: Suriana marítima

Photo credit: Jonathan Delance

Location: Samaná, 2020

Brief description: Suriana maritima is a spreading, much-branched, evergreen shrub that usually grows up to 3 metres tall.  It is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of wood. It is grown to stabilize sand dunes and beaches and is also sometimes used as an ornamental, especially for hedges and screens.   It is confined to seashores above the high-water mark and is often found on the landward side of Avicennia mangroves.

3. Red-legged Thrush (Sp. Chua Chua)

Scientific name: Turdus plumbeus

Photo credit: Jonathan Delance

Location: Cuenca Rio Higuamo

Brief description: Chua Chua, also known as the Red-legged Thrush, is a common bird in the Caribbean islands. It adapts to various types of ecosystems, mainly dry forests, humid forests and degraded areas, up to 2,440 meters of elevation. It feeds on invertebrates, fruits and lizards. Its status is breeding resident and its conservation status is of least concern.

4. Button mangrove (Sp. Mangle de botón)

Scientific name Conocarpus erectus

Photo credit: Jonathan Delance

Location: Montecristi, 2020

Brief description: Buttonwood or button mangrove is a mangrove shrub in the family Combretaceae. It grows on shorelines in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. It is a multi-trunk shrub 1 to 4 m tall, it can grow to a tree 20 m tall or more and its trunk can reach up to a meter in diameter. The bark is thick and has broad thin plates, on a gray to brown scale. It has lanceolate to elliptic leaves of 4-9 cm. It flourishes all year long. Its fruits are winged nuts of 4 mm, aggregated in globose brown heads of 1 to 1.3 cm in diameter.

The button mangrove grows on the coasts of tropical and subtropical regions. In the Dominican Republic it is distributed throughout the coast, being very abundant in the characteristic mangrove areas.  The main mangrove forests are found in Montecristi, San Pedro de Macorís.

Button mangrove develops in any environment, be it dry, humid or brackish.  It has many ecological functions including carbon dioxide capture and fixation, oxygen production, soil conservation, coastal erosion control, bird and reptile habitat. It is also a honey plant that blooms all year round.

5. Reddish Egret (Sp.Garza rojiza)

Scientific name: Egretta rufescens

Photo credit: Jonathan Delance

Location Estero Balsa, 2020

Brief description: The reddish egret lives in almost all bodies of water in the Dominican Republic, in coastal areas, coastal lagoons, brackish ponds and in any other body of salty or brackish water inland such as Lake Enriquillo and Laguna de Oviedo. It feeds mainly on small fish, smooth or mullet fish, frogs, tadpoles, crustaceans, and, rarely, aquatic insects. Its conservation status is near threatened.

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