The Protected Areas of the Dominican Republic


Typical sign in the national parks of the Dominican Republic. The Armando Bermúdez National Park is one of the first national parks of the country.

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.

The Salto El Limón Natural Monument perhaps is the most visited waterfall by Dominicans and foreign tourists alike. It is located on the Samaná Peninsula.

Protected Areas Map

The symbology of the protected areas map.

TRANSLATION: Highway, roads, rivers and streams, lakes and lagoons, international border, provincial border and damping area.
The names and location of all the protected areas of the Dominican Republic.
Protected areas of the Dominican Republic.
The largest national parks of the East are Los Haitíses and Cotubanamá. Contrary to Los Haitíses which reaches the shore only, Cotubanamá extends to parts of the Caribbean Sea. This is especially true along its eastern boundary and around Saona Island.
The region with the largest part of its territory under protection is the South. The greatest extent is reached jn Pedernales province where over 88% of irs territory is protected by two national parks..
The Cibao and Central Mountains is home to the pioneer Armando Bermúdez National Park and the José del Carmen Ramírez National Park. One of the aspects that differentiates the Northern Mountains from other mountain ranges is that it doesn’t have one part protected by a national park. It does have several scientific reserves and natural monuments. The Vega Real section of the Cibao Valley is noticeable the lack of national parks. As one of the most densely populated areas of the Dominican Republic and the high agricultural productivity, the extensive manufacturing and intense commerce coukd explain the lack of environmental protection via national parks. In the western side of the Cibao Valley, known as the Northwestern Line (Línea Noroeste) which lies between Santiago and the border, there is a good wmount protected by one of the modalities.

The First National Parks

Bosque de pinus occidentalis o pino de La Española en el parque nacional Armando Bermúdez en Santiago. La República Dominicana tiene el bosque mas grande del pinus occidentalis, una especie endémica de pinos cuyis hábitat natural son lugares específicos de dos islas: La Española y Cuba.

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.

The La Ceiba Natural Monument in Licey al Medio is a giant ceiba tree estimated to be around 1,000 years old. It was there when the Taino indians controlled the island, on the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492 and all the other historic moments that took place afterwards. If only the tree could talk of everything it witnessed.

Dominican National Parks

Aerial view of Saona Island in the Cotubanamá National Park in Boca de Yuma. Without a doubt this is the most visited part of the national park by Dominican and foreign tourists.

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.

In the horizon is the Martín García National Park. One of its most peculiar characteristics are the chalk white cliffs along its shore with the Caribbean Sea. This national park is located between the provinces of Azua and Barahona.

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.

A panoramic view of a section of the Jaragua National Park in Pedernales.

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.

Frozen area due to the frigid temperatures in the Armando Bermúdez National Park in Santiago. Yes, this too is the Caribbean, but seen only on Hispaniola.

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.

The Cacheo Palm is native to the Dominican Republic. Its sole natural habitat in the world is found in a very small area in the South region of the Dominican Republic.

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.

The Hispaniola Parrot present only on the island of Hispaniola is a common signt in many national parks of the Dominican Republic.

Scientific Reserves of the Dominican Republic

Entrance to a natural path in the Ébano Verde Scientific Reserve in Jarabacoa.

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.

A view towards the flowering Flamboyan trees in the Loma Quita Espuelas Scientific Reserve in San Francisco de Macorís.

Dominican Natural Monuments

The Las Calderas Dunes are in the Félix Servio Ducoudray Natural Monument near Baní.

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.

Frontón Beach in the Cabo Samaná Natural Monument.
The famous Montecristi Hill is its own natural monument. Not only is it well known for its morphological form, but also because of its semi-desert climate.
The Soca Waterfall was considered a natural monument in 2009. It’s near Monte Plata.
One of the most different aspects of the Isabel de Torres Mount Natural Monument in Puerto Plata is the cablecar that takes visitors tk the botanical garden on top of the mountain.

Submarine National Parks

A map of the La Caleta Submarine National Park in Boca Chica. This is the first submarine national park in the Dominican Republic.

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.

One of the several shipwrecks in the La Caleta Submarine National Park.

Panoramic Routes

A section of the panoramic Bayacanes – Jarabacoa Road.

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.

A section of the panoramic Juan Pablo II Highway between Santo Domingo and Samaná.