Target: Minister of the Environment Dr. Bautista Rojas Gómez
Goal: Halt the destruction of the Loma Charco Azul Biological Reserve
Four years ago the Dominican government set aside a biological reserve to protect their rare birds and iguanas, but that land is now being bulldozed to make room for more agricultural settlements. This is due in part to the flooding of Lake Enriquillo, forcing hundreds of families to relocate. The clearing of the land is the government’s way of resolving the issue even though the land is arid and there isn’t an irrigation system in place.
Environmentalists are in an uproar, especially since the government is moving so quickly to get the job done. Grupo Jaragua, the BirdLife affiliate for the Dominican Republic, is frantically addressing the issue through social media and other environmental groups. The move is also raising concern about other protected areas because it is believed the Dominican Republic violated a national environment law. If the government were able to move so swiftly, without regard for the law, what would stop them from clearing other reservations? Already the National Institute of Lawyers for the Protection of the Environment is filing for legal action, but the Dominican Agrarian Institute says they have a permit signed by the Minister of Environment. Already 7.2 hectares of the land have been cleared; the project is intended to clear 105.
Former president Leonel Fernandez sanctioned the area as a sanctuary in 2009, recognizing how important it was to protect the land and the wildlife within it. The Loma Charco Azul reserve provided habitats for 32 restricted birds, 14 threatened species of birds, and 30 migratory birds. The area has the largest population of Ricord’s Iguanas, found only in the Dominican Republic.
Unfortunately there has been little local coverage of the reservation’s destruction. Environmentalists are hoping that global coverage will make the bulldozers stop. Sign this petition and give them that coverage.
Dear Dr. Bautista Rojas Gomez,
You recently signed a permit letting the Dominican Agrarian Institute bulldoze a reservation housing numerous species of birds and iguanas. While I understand that clearing of the land is done to relocate families who have lost their homes to a flood, it is unfair to the animals who are already living there. Many of them are are already threatened species. It is also impractical to build homes on an area that is arid, and doesn’t have an irrigation system.
Your former president recognized the importance of this place, hence why he made it into a reservation. I implore you to see why he saw it fit to do so. If these animals lose their homes, it only increases their chances of becoming extinct. Please reconsider your actions and save this sanctuary.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Michael B. Lavender via Wikimedia