Dominican Republic mangrove conservation news

From BirdLife:

Laguna de Oviedo’s community mangroves

Fri, Aug 23, 2013

Grupo Jaragua (BirdLife in the Dominican Republic) has just successfully finished their 18-month site-project entitled Mangroves in Laguna de Oviedo: conservation status and reforestation in areas used by local communities. The project focused on improving the conservation of mangrove ecosystems in Jaragua National Park (JNP) through monitoring, reforestation and awareness activities with the participation of local communities. Grupo Jaragua found that while there is no direct exploitation of mangroves around Laguna de Oviedo, a number of small-scale impacts were identified that could compromise JNP´s mangrove ecosystems in the long-term. The project was part of a small grant scheme, funded by the MacArthur Foundation that has supported and built the capacity for locally-based mangrove conservation and education/awareness in the Insular Caribbean.


Red mangroves in laguna de Oviedo. © Amelia Mateo

Red mangroves in laguna de Oviedo. © Amelia Mateo

Laguna de Oviedo is a hyper-saline lagoon located on the north-east side of Jaragua National Park – an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area, and part of the unique Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve. At 28,000 ha, Laguna de Oviedo is the largest saltwater lake within the park. This wetland supports mangrove forests (c. 1,573 ha) that provide critical habitat for a number of nesting waterbirds such as the Caribbean Flamingos Phoenicopterus ruber, Roseate Spoonbill Platalea ajaja, White Ibis Eudocimus albus, Brown Pelican Pelicanus occidentalis, Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens and Least Tern Sternula antillarum.

The mangroves and adjacent mud flats are also used as feeding, roosting and stop-over grounds by migratory birds including Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes, Solitary Sandpiper T. solitaria, Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla, Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus and Prothonotary Warbler Protonotaria citrea. The Vulnerable West Indian Whistling-duck Dendrocygna arborea and Near Threatened White-crowned Pigeon Patagioenas leucocephala – two species restricted to the Caribbean – rely on the mangroves of Laguna de Oviedo during important parts of their life cycle.

“Residents from the surrounding community of El Cajuil have long used this wetland´s mangrove resources for food, fuel wood and other extractive purposes”, said Mildred Dawaira Méndez, Project Coordinator. “Also, impacts by tropical storms and hurricanes on the lagoon´s natural ecosystems (including mangrove areas) have been reported by local folk. Furthermore, there is an increasing presence and usage of fast-growing, non-native invasive plants, such as Neem Tree Azadirachta indica for shade”, continued Méndez.

The values of mangroves were highlighted during World Wetlands Day 2013. © Grupo Jaragua

The values of mangroves were highlighted during World Wetlands Day 2013. © Grupo Jaragua

In order to improve the conservation status of Laguna de Oviedo´s mangroves – and contribute to the overall conservation of mangrove ecosystems in JNP – Grupo Jaragua implemented the project Mangroves in Laguna de Oviedo: conservation status and reforestation in areas used by local communities. Since 2011, they have: carried out a mangrove ecosystem health assessment; implemented bird and site monitoring through the use of the IBA monitoring framework; raised local awareness about the importance of mangroves during environmental celebrations (including the World Bird Festival and World Wetlands Day); and planted buttonwood mangroves. All project activities were conducted with the participation of Local Conservation Groups and communities.

Main project achievements:
Mangrove monitoring

Community-based mangrove monitoring. © Grupo Jaragua

  • Four permanently marked vegetation study plots were established on site, on the banks of Laguna de Oviedo.
  • Water salinity and tree girth were measured, and Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates taken.
  • Red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa), black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) and buttonwood mangrove (Conocarpus erectus) were all found to be present, with red and black mangroves dominating.
  • Seed collection was undertaken by the Local Conservation Group Voluntarios Comunitarios de Jaragua.
  • Seeds were germinated in community plant nurseries. Unfortunately, many were attacked by insect larva and free ranging chickens. A better protected hatchery was more successful in the second year.
  • IBA monitoring was conducted during two consecutive years by local field ornithologist with participation from local youths.
  • Multiple mangrove awareness educational activities were undertaken (e.g. talks, birdwatching trips, drawing contests, production of mangrove related educational materials, poster exhibition, mural painting and mangrove tree planting near the lagoon). These activities were carried out during World Wetlands Day, Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival, World Bird Festival and International Migratory Bird Day celebrations.
  • Project achievements were communicated and disseminate through traditional (i.e. television programs) and new media (e.g. social networks).
  • Awareness of the importance of mangroves and mangrove conservation issues was increased through a range of communication, outreach materials, and news stories
  • Information was shared through a website:

Throughout the project, Grupo Jaragua worked closely with Voluntarios Comunitarios de Jaragua (Local Conservation Group) and local eco-guides from the communities of El Cajuil and Oviedo. The communities of Juancho, La Colonia, Tres Charcos and Manuel Goya have also benefitted through the project´s educational and awareness activities. All seven communities surround Jaragua National Park.

Key findings

Mangrove cattle paddocks

Clandestine cattle owners utilize mangrove wood to construct rudimentary paddocks. © Laura Perdomo

Grupo Jaragua found that while there is no direct exploitation of mangroves around Laguna de Oviedo, a number of small-scale impacts were identified that could compromise JNP´s mangrove ecosystems in the long-term.

These impacts include:

  • Overgrazing by free-ranging cattle (i.e. cows, goats, horses, donkeys) accompanied by seasonal cutting of mangrove roots to construct rudimentary cattle paddocks.
  • Sporadic exploitation and/or hunting of waterbirds, their fledglings or eggs.
  • Seasonal harvest of land crabs (Cardisoma guanhumi) in mangrove areas.
  • Non-degradable solid waste accumulation (of local and non-local origin brought by the sea).
  • Some mangrove areas north of the lagoon (located within protected area limits) have recently been cleared with the intention of illegal land appropriation and subsequent sale from the park.

Lessons learned

“This project was implemented with local community members, identified and trained during years of community engagement by Grupo Jaragua”, said Mildred Dawaira Méndez. “This pre-existing relationship and trust greatly facilitated local involvement around the theme of mangroves and allowed for successful achievement of all planned activities. Awareness raising activities (especially planting mangroves!) were very popular and helped generate interest in this project as well as opportunities to learn more about preserving natural resources”, concluded Méndez.

The Mangroves in Laguna de Oviedo project was carried out by Grupo Jaragua as part of the Mangrove Alliance: BirdLife’s three-year initiative supporting and building the capacity of locally-based mangrove conservation and education/awareness activities in the Insular Caribbean. It was made possible thanks to the generous support from the MacArthur Foundation.

Grupo Jaragua wins the Dominican Republic’s largest private sector environmental award: here.

Fossil and living fly discoveries in Dominican Republic

This video is called amber fossilsDominican Republic.

From the University of Manchester in England:

Scientist names new fly species after the professor who has supported his work

August 9, 2013

A Professor from The University of Manchester has had his name immortalised as a new species of fly.

Professor Richard Preziosi, from the Faculty of Life Sciences, said he was delighted with the unusual tribute from researcher Dr Dave Penney.

It follows his continued support of Dr Penney’s unfunded research into amber rocks which he has been investigating for around 20 years.

Dr Penney discovered the new species of fly, which he has named Proceroplatus preziosii, on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, after finding a fossil in 16 million-year-old amber from the Dominican Republic. His findings were confirmed by Dr Neal Evenhuis, of the Bishop Museum in Hawaii, who is the leading world expert on this group. The species is a tiny gnat just a few millimetres long belonging to the Keroplatidae family.

Professor Preziosi said: “I am delighted and honoured to have this newly discovered species named after me. It has been a real privilege to be able to support Dr Penney’s research and to be associated with his discoveries of this unique aspect of biodiversity.”

Dr Penney, who has previously discovered approximately 40 new species of insects and spiders and has had two species named after him, said: “The fossil represents the first record of Keroplatidae from the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. It led us to predict the presence of these flies in the living fauna on the island. After a study we found the species living there.

“I wanted to thank Professor Preziosi, who has supported me throughout my research career at Manchester, and thought this would be a novel way to do this!”

The discovery is published in the journal Zootaxa.

‘Pro-life’ laws killing women, Ireland, USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

Danielle and Robb share their story of how a restrictive Nebraska law impacted their family.

From the blog of Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund in the USA:

Savita’s Death Was Not an Isolated Incident

Posted: 11/19/2012 5:19 pm

By now news of Savita Halappanavar’s senseless death has traveled around the world, drawing attention to Ireland‘s near-total ban on abortion and the horrific consequences of such policies. This is not a stand-alone case. Every 90 seconds a woman dies from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, totaling more than 350,000 deaths worldwide each year. Nearly all of these deaths occur in developing countries, where access to modern medical care is scarce.

What makes Savita’s story so shocking is that she died in a modern hospital in a developed European country. We health advocates spend a lot of time and energy fighting for the kind of access Savita (almost) had. Hers was a planned pregnancy. She herself was a medical professional, a dentist, who recognized the warning signs of pregnancy complications. When she felt severe pains, she and her husband didn’t have to travel far to reach a clean, modern hospital where her health problems were quickly diagnosed. And when she learned that she was miscarrying and that her life was in danger, she asked her doctor about her options and requested that her pregnancy be ended before it killed her.

Lack of access to medical care did not kill Savita — politics did.

The slow and painful death Ireland’s abortion ban forced Savita to endure, and forced her husband to witness, brings to mind another tragic story. Earlier this year, doctors in the Dominican Republic refused chemotherapy to a 16-year-old cancer patient because she was pregnant.

Think this couldn’t happen in the United States? Think again.

In Nebraska, Danielle Deaver experienced complications in the 22nd week of her pregnancy. Her water broke and doctors informed her that there was not enough amniotic fluid for her daughter to survive. Devastated, Danielle wanted to end the pregnancy, but her state’s ban on safe and legal abortion after 20 weeks gestation prevented her from doing so. Instead, Danielle was forced to continue her pregnancy and deliver a baby that died moments after birth.

Danielle, the young woman in the Dominican Republic and Savita show us what happens when politicians get between women and their doctors. Right now in Ohio, legislators are considering a bill that would impose similar restrictions on women in Ohio as those currently faced by women in Ireland. It would ban safe and legal abortion very early in pregnancy — even before some women know they are pregnant.

Savita and Danielle represent some of the most extreme outcomes of harmful policies, but by no means the full extent. Women across the country and around the world suffer in myriad ways because of politics that deny women the ability to make their own health care decisions.

They face challenges ranging from mental anguish after becoming pregnant from a sexual assault, to the judgment and shame created by bad policies, to the health consequences of complicated pregnancies, both intended and unintended.

The best way to honor the life and courage of Savita and women like her is to make sure no woman dies again in these circumstances. We need to ensure that laws and policies give women the ability to make decisions about whether to end a pregnancy, choose adoption, or raise a child.

It’s time we let politicians know that we will no longer allow politics to interfere with women’s health. We have enough work ensuring that women and families can access quality medical care. Let’s leave the personal decisions up to them and their doctors.

Follow Cecile Richards on Twitter:

Before Savita, Irish anti-abortion rules already caused women’s deaths: here.

Belfast march after Savita’s death: here.

Save Latin American forests

This video is about vinaceous-breasted Amazon parrots.

From BirdLife:

Agreements that seek to protect 474 hectares of threatened forests in Argentina, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic are signed

Thu, Sep 13, 2012

During the 2012 BirdLife Americas Partnership Meeting three agreements were signed for land acquisition in key IBAs in Argentina, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic. These purchases, made possible through the support of the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation, are part of BirdLife’s Forests of Hope program, and have the goal of securing at least 474 hectares of forest and contributing to the conservation of 72 species of global concern.

In Argentina, the BirdLife Partner Aves Argentinas will acquire 100 hectares in the buffer zone of Cruce Caballero Provincial Park (IBA AR122), the last remnant of primary forest in Argentina with the Critically Endangered Parana Pine (Araucaria angustifolia). A total of 314 bird species has been recorded at the site, of which 74 are endemic to the Atlantic Forest and 20 are of global conservation concern. This area is of particular importance to the Vinaceous-breasted Amazon (Amazona vinacea), an Endangered species, and the Vulnerable Helmeted Woodpecker (Dryocopus galeatus). The populations of threatened birds in the Park are dwindling due to isolation and edge effects, as a result of neighboring areas being cleared for agricultural purposes. Once purchased, the new reserve areas will be co-managed by a local conservation group and the Argentinian National Parks Authority.

Guyra Paraguay signs land purchase agreements.

In Paraguay, San Rafael Forest (IBA PY046) is the largest remnant of Atlantic Forest remaining in the country. Despite having been declared a protected area in 1992, all the land is privately owned and its effective protection is widely recognized as the top national conservation priority. San Rafael is home to 12 globally threatened bird species and 67 Atlantic Forest endemics (the highest diversity of any site in Paraguay).

Building a Foundation for Vinaceous Amazon Parrot Conservation in Paraguay: here.

Small mammals rapidly become extinct in small forest fragments: here.

Save the black-capped petrel

This video says about itself:

The Black-capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata) is an endangered species. These are the very first chick photos obtained in Haiti. For more info:

From BirdLife:

Black-capped Petrel may warrant protection under the endangered species act

Wed, Jun 20, 2012

A nocturnal seabird, the black-capped petrel, may warrant federal protection as a threatened or endangered species.

Endangered means the species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range; threatened means the species is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

The black-capped petrel is found in North America and the Caribbean, and is known by several common names: “black-capped petrel,” “capped petrel,” and “West Indian petrel” in North America and on English-speaking islands. In the Greater and Lesser Antilles, the bird is known as “diablotín” (little devil). In Cuba, the bird also is referred to as “bruja” (witch).

This decision, commonly known as a 90-day finding, is based on scientific information about the species presented by WildEarth Guardians in a petition to list the species and designate critical habitat, as well as information found in Service files at the time the petition was received. The Service will now conduct a thorough status review of the species to determine whether the species warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act (Act).

“This finding does not mean that the Service has decided it is appropriate to list the black-capped petrel,” said Edwin Muñiz, Field Supervisor for the Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office. “The 90-day finding is the first step in a process that triggers a more thorough review of all the biological information available.”

”We are encouraging the public to submit any relevant information about the black-capped petrel and its habitat to us for consideration in the comprehensive review,” Muñiz said.

The black-capped petrel has a grey-brown back and wings, with a white nape and rump. The seabird’s underparts are mainly white apart from a black cap and some dark underwing markings. It picks food items such as squid from the ocean surface. The seabird nests in colonies on islands and are found at sea when not breeding.

Currently, there are only 13 known breeding colonies and an estimated 600 to 2,000 breeding pairs. While historically the black-capped petrel had breeding colonies throughout the Caribbean region, current breeding populations are known only on the island of Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), and possibly Dominica and Martinique. The non-breeding range of the black-capped petrel is along the coast between North Carolina and Florida.

The black-capped petrel faces many potential threats to its continued existence, including human encroachment, deforestation, agricultural modification, offshore oil exploration and development, overuse from subsistence hunting, predation by introduced species, pollution, mercury bioaccumulation and inadequate regulatory mechanisms.

Predation by introduced species, such as Indian mongoose, Virginia opossum, feral cats, dogs, pigs, and rats also contributed to the decline and possible elimination of the species from multiple locations in the West Indies. Pollution, bioaccumulation of heavy metals, and oil spills potentially threaten the existence of the petrel as researchers have noted that the species has a mercury concentration seven to nine times higher than other similar seabirds.

Additionally, impacts specific to the black-capped petrels could include changes in habitat suitability, loss of nesting burrows washed out by rain or flooding, increased petrel strandings inland during storm events, and increased risk from animal-borne disease.

North Atlantic Seabirds – Multimedia Identification Guide to Pterodroma Petrels: here.

New children’s guide to Haiti’s birds


From BirdLife:

New children’s guide to Haiti‘s birds


Children in schools across Haiti have the opportunity to learn about their special birds – including 24 found only on the island of Hispaniola – thanks to a new guide, A la découverte des oiseaux d’Haiti (Discover the birds of Haiti), produced by Ms Florence Sergile.

The book has many novel features, including a sparrow character to guide children through simple, fun exercises aimed at increasing their appreciation of Haitian natural heritage that includes todies, tanagers and the unique Palmchat Dulus dominicus.

92 species are covered, with French, Creole and English names all given, and including most common resident and migratory birds.

Review of movies on Trujillo of the Dominican republic, and other Latin American countries: here.

Columbus’ settlement on Hispaniola, and silver ore: here.