The Dominican Republic has one of the most ambitious and extensive environmetal protection system in Latin America. To date 26.5% of the territory of the Dominican Republic is protected as a strict protection area, national parks, natural monuments, habitats and species management areas, scientific reserves and protected sceneries.
Protected Areas Map
The First National Parks
The first national parks of the Dominican Republic were created by Rafael Leonidas Trujillo on February 19, 1956. They are the Armando Bermúdez National Park and the José del Carmen Ramírez National Park, both in the Central Mountains and borders each other. Both parks cover an area of 766 KM2. They have some of the highest elevations in the Caribbean including Pico Duarte at 3,172 meters making it taller thsn any mountain in the Caribbean and in North America east of the Mississippi River. Another interesting detail is that it has the larget pine forest of thd Pinus Occidentalis (Creole Pine or Pine of Hispaniola) in the world. Both parks have the springs of various rivers including the longest river on the island and the only river in the Caribbean thst can be used fir whiteriver rafting, Yaque del Norte River. It also has the spring of Haiti’s most important river, Artibonite.
Dominican National Parks
While the first national parks were the two created in 1956, new national parks weren’t created during the remainder of the Trujillo dictatorship. Right now there are 28 national parks scattered all over the country.
The national parks of the Dominican Republic atest to the great climate varieties of Hispaniola. This variation range from the top of the mountains with a more temperate climate to an area under the sea level. In fact, the tallest mountain in the Caribbean is Pico Duarte at 3,172 meters. Yet, the lowest point in the Caribbean is Cabritos Island in the Enriquillo Lake and Cabritos Island National Park with an elevation of 40 meters under sea level.
The heights of the mountain ranges and its interaction with the windward winds which arrive from the northeast are the main influences in the climate variety. Basically, Hispaniola produces its own climates as if it was a miniature continent. In general, towards the eastern side of the mountains is more humid and has greater rainfall compared to the western side where it’s less humid and a noticeable drop in rainfall.
The changes in climate between the cold and the warmth depends on elevation, and between humid or dry depends on the latitudes. The vegetation is a mirror if these changes as it changes too. Fram large pine forests without a single palm that makes it appear as a country in Scandinavia and not in the Caribbean, to areas full of palm trees of every species and other areas of a semi-desert area with plenty of cactuses and acacias. The variety of vegetation is very large and includes native species such as the Cacheo Palm which grows in the Bahoruco area.
In the same measure that in the national parks exist a variety of the vegetation, the wild animal species is also varied. Some of the animals such as the Hispaniola Parrot are found on Hispaniola only. Due to the intense deforestation in Haiti, a peculiar phenomenon exist in which certain species that were present islandwide now exist in the Dominican Republic only. A good example is the Solenodonte.
Scientific Reserves of the Dominican Republic
Scientific reserves tend to be much smaller in area thsn national parks. These regions are devoted to scientific research and the education of the various animal and plant species. Right now there are 8 scientific reserves in the Dominican Republic. To this are added 2 marine mammals sanctuaries and 2 biological reserves. The scientific reserves are open to the public.
Dominican Natural Monuments
There are 29 natural monuments and 2 wildlife reserves in the Dominican Republic. The characteristic of natural monuments is that they are specific geographic elements that differentiate themselves from the rest of the territory. These differences can be a morphological formation, a concentration of biodiversity, cave arts created by the Taino indians, etc.
Submarine National Parks
La República Dominicana tiene 2 parque nacional submarinos y La Caleta es el primer parque The Dominican Republic has 2 submarine national parks. The first of this kind is La Caleta Submarine National Park. It was created in 1974. Among the many feautures it has a coral reef, several shipwrecks and a variety of aquatic animal and plant species.
The Dominican Republic protected areas network includes 10 roads and highways as psrt of the panoramic routes. The natural settings that these roads traverses are of an extraordinary nature and beautiful in the extreme. These protected areas theoretically conserve them for the enjoyment of future Dominican generations and foreign tourists.