Agro-forestry projects in the Dominican Republic restore landscape, boost local economy
Dec 10, 2013 10:15 AM ET
The rock-strewn road into the village of Juan Adrian makes for a bumpy ride that can turn a new car old in a hurry. But the wear and tear is worth it because the view from Juan Adrian, located about an hour east of the Dominican Republic capital of Santo Domingo, is breathtaking. A sheet of mist rises high above the trees and flora blanketing the mountains directly behind the village. It seems as if every one of the 8,000 plant species in the Dominican Republic resides on these mountains. Chic, spiky coconut and royal palm trees mingle with droopy, tear-shaped cacaos, creolean pines and stout Hispaniolan mahogany. A rich but pleasant aroma of green permeates the damp air.
The greenery in Juan Adrian isn’t confined to the mountain vista. A central feature of the village, which is located in the municipality of the same name, is a large nursery filled with rows of coffee plants, avocado, cacao and orange trees. The nursery is part of the Juan Adrian Agricultural Project, whose goal is to develop economically-viable crops and reclaim lands lost or damaged by soil erosion and deforestation.
“We still have beautiful vegetation here,” says Sifrido Cruz Ventura, Director of the Municipality of Juan Adrian. “But a lot of valuable forestland has been lost to livestock farming, development, disease and erosion. So we are very serious about preserving the environment.”