Forestry policies, institutions and programmes
In the past - and even today to a limited degree - Dominican forestry administration has been marked by the large number of national institutions involved, frequently with overlapping tasks.
Until very recently, the forestry administration fell under the authority of the military forces. The new forest law, passed in December 1999, marked a fundamental shift in forestry policy. As against the 1967 felling ban, which prohibited extraction from natural forests, the main aim of the new forestry policy is to foster the rational and sustainable use of forests. Since August 2000, the Secretariat of State for the Environment and Natural Resources has been the sole institution concerned with forestry policy with a view to development. The forestry administration is part of this ministry and falls under the Subsecretariat of State for Forest Resources. National parks are managed by the same ministry¿s Subsecretariat for Protected Areas. In 2001 the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources issued the new Forest Code, with technical standards for forest administration and management.
Apart from the State authorities responsible for forest management, there are many non-governmental organizations that play a part in forestry activities. Although many of them focus on conservation, some do promote agroforestry and the planting of forest species for timber production. Some of them have government-approved sawmills, for example the Zambrana Cotui Small Forest Company, which processes acacia wood from a small privately-owned forest plot.
A Forestry Action Plan was launched in 1991 with the aim of reaching national timber and fuelwood self-sufficiency by 2016. It included plans to establish forest plantations for timber and fuelwood production, as well as catchment area protection. It also proposed the establishment of forest plantations in combination with non-forestry sectors, for example agroforestry and silvipastoral systems. Law 290 allocated financial assistance (for example, tax exemptions) as incentives, especially for private landowners.
The high deforestation rate has been a subject of concern since the 1960s. With the aim of protecting forests from uncontrolled logging, a decree was passed in 1967 closing down all sawmills except those with small chainsaws. Although the intention was to protect forests totally from any extraction, this move did not in fact put a halt to deforestation. On the other hand, it gave people the idea that forests cannot be touched, which meant that they now lacked much economic interest for landowners. With the new forestry policy, harvesting and natural management of forests are now possible, so long as the sustainability of the operation fits in with the forest management and development plan.
Last updated: November 2002