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"Ridge to Reef" Approach Conserves Dominican Republic Biodiversity

"Ridge to Reef" Approach Conserves Dominican Republic Biodiversity ( “RIDGE-TO-REEF" APPROACH CONSERVES DOMINICAN REPUBLIC BIODIVERSITY

Photographs available at:
CAPTION: This fisheries community gathers to discuss ways of making an income while preserving biodiversity.
CAPTION: AgroFrontera logo

DAJABON, Dominican Republic (October 3, 2007) – On the northwest coast of the Dominican Republic, the Monte Cristi National Park has long enjoyed rich biodiversity and symbiotic natural balance. However, environmental studies confirmed the region is also one of great ecological fragility.

Visitors and fishermen have been over-fishing the park's surrounding waters, and unsustainable farming practices have threatened the abundance of plant and animal species that inhabits Monte Cristi's coastal lands and reefs, including giant sea turtles which lay their eggs in the region.

To reverse this destructive process, Counterpart International, a humanitarian aid and development agency, has devised a community-based approach to enhance local knowledge of how to use natural resources sustainably, conserve biodiversity, and promote environmentally friendly economic growth.

In partnership with AgroFrontera, a local non-profit sustainable development organization based in Monte Cristi, Counterpart is creating community-based education, conservation, and economic development activities engaging a wide range of stakeholders within the Park's boundaries and surrounding buffer zones. A key component of the program will be the formation of a collaborative alliance of stakeholders consisting of agricultural and fishing cooperatives; businesses; local, national and international development and conservation organizations and governmental agencies, to design and implement a broad-based, integrated conservation and development strategy.

Lelei LeLaulu, president of Counterpart International, said “Our work with our distinguished partner – AgroFrontera – in the Monte Cristi National Park will bring together best practices to help Dominican communities develop sustainable development practices best suited to saving and conserving their environmental treasures."

The agricultural initiatives that Counterpart and AgroFrontera will undertake with local farmers will be market-driven in order to improve the quality of life of individuals working and living in the area.

Counterpart's leadership in forging effective collaboration among diverse stakeholders is a powerful tool for change. Counterpart also brings to Monte Cristi and AgroFrontera global expertise and experience in linking marine and coastal ecology and conservation to local community development.

Counterpart's 'Coral Gardens' programs merge indigenous knowledge with science to conserve reef systems in several countries. Counterpart's 'Forest Gardens' program fosters agroforestry and sustainable land-based practices which conserve and regenerate forests while enabling communities to generate wealth.

Counterpart International, founded in 1965, gives people a voice in their own future through smart partnerships, offering options and access to tools for sustained social, economic and environmental development. Operating on five continents, Counterpart is supported by the generosity of its corporate and individual donors, foundations, host countries, multilateral institutions and several U.S. government agencies.

For further information, visit

Christine Hicks + 1 202-296-9676

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