The Dominican Republic is involved in the creation, of what conservationists hope will be a new model for nature reserves, in a country that has long struggled with deforestation.
The reserve is taking shape in a lushly overgrown former cattle ranch measuring about 1,000 acres, at the edge of a deep green forest in the Dominican Republic’s rugged northeast.
The government sees the reserve as a potential example, showing that such land can be put to better uses than burning down the trees to convert it to pasture, a typical approach in Caribbean countries.
Neighboring Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola, has virtually none of its forest standing.
Jesus Moreno, a Dominican businessman whose family is partially funding the reserve, says the portion of the property where most of the trees have already been removed, is well-suited to low-intensity, organic agriculture. He plans to grow macadamia trees and cacao, the raw material in chocolate, while allowing the forest to regenerate
Most of the money for Reserva came from the Eddy Foundation of Willsboro, New York, and Moreno’s family, which previously owned a controlling stake in the Helados Bon chain of ice cream stores in the Dominican Republic, and neighboring Haiti.