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Jaragua National Park

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Jaragua National Park

Located in the extreme southwest of the Dominican Republic, Jaragua National Park is the largest protected area in the country. The park combines an array of terrestrial, coastal, and marine environments, two continental islands, and diverse communities such as dry forest and scrub on the southern slopes of the Bahoroco Mountains. The terrestrial portion of the park accounts for only one-third of the park’s area; 223,625 acres of protected waters extend out to sea just beyond Alto Velo Island.

did you know

In 2001, the world's smallest reptile, the Jaragua Sphaero, or dwarf gecko, was identified in Jaragua. This 16-millimeter lizard is thought to only live on the island of Beata and nearby areas in Jaragua National Park.

Jaragua National Park

A rocky coast in Jaragua © Greg Miller

 

site profile

total area protected:
339,515 acres
map of site

ecoregion:
Hispaniolan Dry Forest and Mangroves

partner organization:
Pronatura, Oviedo  Ecological Society, Grupo Jaragua

Ecological Importance

Jaragua is home to many of the Dominican Republic’s endemic species, including 54 reptiles and amphibians. Many of these species have even more specific endemism with 36 native to Hispanolia, 26 to Jaragua, 4 to Beate Island, and 3 to Alto Velo. There are also many endemic mammals and 2 endemic iguanas. Many plants are endemic, including the shrub and the palm.

One-hundred thirty bird species—60 percent of the country’s total—are found in Jaragua, with all of the country’s endemic species found within the park and the adjacent mountain ranges of the Sierra de Bahoruco. The park hosts the country’s largest population of flamingos, and more than half of the bird species are associated with aquatic environments. Jaragua provides the nesting ground for at least three of four species of marine turtles that can be located in the park’s waters: hawksbill, leatherback, loggerhead and green. Jaragua also hosts some of the most important lobster habitat and fisheries in the country.

Threats

Forest clearing for agriculture, charcoal production, and cattle ranching threaten the park’s terrestrial environments, while over harvesting of lobster, conch and several fish species continues to be a problem in the marine areas of the park.  Sporadic poaching of flamingos has been reported recently in the park, as well as a possible increase in the use of remote southern beach areas by drug runners. Egg collection on Alto Velo Island threatens sea turtles and the largest nesting colony of terns in the Antilles.

Jaragua’s beautiful beaches increasingly draw tourists. Yet with the construction of a park airport and new roads, tourism in Jaragua will threaten the park’s fragile environment if not properly controlled.

A Strategy of Success

When the Parks in Peril (PiP) program was initiated, Jaragua was a classic example of a “paper park.” A management plan had been written in 1975, but few of the recommended actions had been implemented. With PiP’s support, on-the-ground protection of Jaragua was finally enacted.

The park’s physical infrastructure was developed by building five guard stations in critical places, including remote areas, and was complemented with the hiring of sixteen park guards. The boundaries of the park were demarcated and communication equipment was provided to link the guard stations and staff. One of the greatest developments at Jaragua was the success of 30 volunteer park guards supported by the Oviedo Ecological Society (OES). Through volunteering, the group not only decreased the cost of patrolling but also created a vehicle for local community participation in the direct protection of the park.

PiP funding has helped build the capacity of local groups OES, Pronatura, and Grupo Jaragua to effectively manage and conserve the park. OES has supported community projects that demonstrate the sustainable use of park resources and has taken an active role in building a community center and teaching techniques for raising medicinal plants.

Upon site consolidation in 1994, other sources of funding were secured as the park’s importance was promoted nationally and internationally. Projects such as marine research and conservation training for fishermen, marine turtle conservation, harvesting and processing of the canelilla tree, development of a management plan for the Oviedo Lagoon, and ecotourism training for local communities have been implemented.

Read more about Jaragua...

Pronatura

Read more about projects in Dominican Republic...

Madre de las Aguas Conservation Area
Del Este National Park

Dominican Republic Partner Organizations

The Nature Conservancy in Dominican Republic