The Colinas Bajas Model Forest covers 909 000 hectares in 10 provinces and 44 municipalities in the northeastern region of the Dominican Republic and includes Los Haitises National Park. The area is rich in biodiversity and is important for livelihoods of the region’s more than 700 000 in habitants.
As part of the development plan for the area and in line with the Model Forest governance processes, Barrick Pueblo Viejo (a subsidiary of Barrick Gold) and Enda Dominicana (a non-profit organization which supports integrated forest resource management) have come together to implement the
Pueblo Viejo – Los Haitises Natural Resources Management and Conservation Project.
Barrick Pueblo Viejo is channelling its corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts in the Dominican Republic through the Colinas Bajas Model Forest in a joint $8M US, 5-year investment that supports reforestation and environmental remediation actions, while also reducing poverty levels in rural areas. Barrick Pueblo Viejo is contributing $1M/year while the remainder is provided by Enda Dominicana and local businesses and organizations.
The project has achieved several positive results, both for the forest and the surrounding communities. Some of the outcomes include the development of craft initiatives that are transforming local raw materials and providing alternative income sources for community members, and reconstruction of roads to allow easier access to isolated communities and stakeholders. The project has also helped to improve housing conditions for at least 50 local forest and NTFP producers in the region, and has restored infrastructure in five community infrastructures: sports and recreation centres, heritage properties and religious spaces.
However, the biggest achievement, according to Mamerto Valeria, Director of Enda Dominicana, has been to exceed the original goal in the restoration of forest landscapes by more than 20 times in the biological corridor that runs through Los Haitises National Park. The initiative has positively impacted about 5 000 small producers in forestry, agroforestry and silvopastoral systems, creating sustainable food security conditions, increasing income generation for families and enhancing the ecological transformation of the region.
Positive results are solidifying the alliance between stakeholders in the Colinas Bajas Model Forest. It has been a trust-building exercise between the community and the mining company and is leading to a strengthened commitment to new projects.
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