Social reforestation: for nature and communities of the Dominican Republic

The reforestation program “Frontera Siembra 2023” of AVSI’s partner DGDF (General Directorate for Border Development) is underway.

Date 13.03.2023

A program to support social reforestation was officially launched on Saturday, March 4 in Carrizal, in the North-West of the Dominican Republic, at one of the nurseries where plants for reforestation are grown.

The event saw the participation of Ramón Pérez Tejada, CEO of DGDF; Rosalba Milagros Peña, Dajabón Governor; Katja Afheldt, Ambassador of the European Union; Rita Hammerli Weschke, Ambassador of Switzerland; Stefano Queirolo Palmas, Ambassador of Italy, and Mario Di Francesco, AVSI Country Manager.

From left to right: Rosalba Milagros Peña, Dajabón Governor; Ramón Pérez Tejada, CEO of DGDF; Stefano Queirolo Palmas, Ambassador of Italy; Katja Afheldt, Ambassador of the European Union, and Rita Hammerli Weschke, Ambassador of Switzerland

The goal of the project Frontera Siembra 2023 is to plant trees in the seven Dominican provinces bordering Haiti, not only to protect forests but also to mitigate the process of soil erosion, improve water conditions of the drainage basins and give socio-economic support to the communities living on the border, which are among the poorest ones in the country.

Thanks to Frontera Siembra 2023 360,000 plants will be planted in the provinces of Dajabón, Montecristi, Santiago Rodríguez, Elías Piña, Bahoruco, Independencia and Flints. This action contributes to raising awareness of the importance of preserving and protecting natural resources.

Ramón Ernesto Pérez Tejada, CEO of the Dirección General de Desarrollo Fronterizo - DGDF

AVSI has met the DGDF CEO a couple of years ago, during a collaboration on the development of border areas.

As a matter of fact during the event Mario Di Francesco, AVSI Country Manager, explained that: “Since that meeting, we have come a long way together. We agreed on two main priorities right from the start: the need for integrated socio-economic development and nature preservation .”

This union of intent led to AVSI's first project in collaboration with the DGDF in 2022, aimed at planting 39,000 high-value plants like coffee, cocoa, oranges, lemons, and other forestry plants such as caoba and pome in cooperation with the Italian company Treedom.

The agreement with Treedom on this social reforestation project, carried out both in the North of the country and in the so-called "buffer zone" (the area on the Western border with Haiti) of the Sierra de Bahoruco National Park, is being renewed again this year. Here, besides plants of high economic value, endemic and melliferous plants (plants that provide nectar for the bees) will also be planted to benefit local beekeeping cooperatives, both socially and economically.

This partnership represents an opportunity for growth and training for the DGDF and AVSI: we both have something to learn from each other. The Frontera Siembra program is already looking to the future and it is an opportunity to cultivate more and more partnerships with local institutions.

Mario Di Francesco - AVSI Dominican Republic Country Manager

As this intervention makes clear, AVSI considers reforestation an integrated action that goes beyond a purely environmental purpose. It allows communities to get involved and the most vulnerable people to get an income. They can improve their business and really feel they are the protagonists of their own development. This program is a valid and repeatable example of how climate change can be tackled with the participation of local communities. As a matter of fact, it is no coincidence that AVSI will organize a meeting in the Dominican Republic with staff from all over the world to define its strategic guidelines on the environment for the years to come.

A beneficiary of the project symbolically receives a seedling during the launch event of the "Frontera Siembra 2023" program