Local June 3, 2013 | 9:07 am

“Aggressive” farming ravages Bahoruco National Park’s forests

Santo Domingo.- One of the country’s most prestigious environmental groups on Sunday called the unchecked destruction of forests from agriculture’s “aggressive” expansion at Bahoruco National Park (southwest) of "deep concern."

The Jaragua group blames Dominicans who pay for cheap Haitian labor to expand plantations, including avocados, potatoes and other short-cycle crops.

They said the southern side of the park, in Pedernales province, considered one of Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve’s core areas, has been subjected to a rapid devastation since 2008.

"The area that concerns us is a victim of an aggressive expansion of agriculture in a way incompatible with the preservation of its valuable forests at least since 2008. The scale and speed of deforestation within the park’s boundaries is more than 80 square kilometers and continues to grow," the Grupo Jaragua said on its website.

Calling it the Tragedy of Sierra de Bahoruco," the environmentalists said of particular concern are the plantations installed at ??Los Arroyos and the devastation at Las Abejas, north of the remote town Las Mercedes, where they affirm the highly destructive subsistence farming expands rapidly. "All these crops have been planted on steep slopes with shallow soils, making them very susceptible to rapid erosion and permanent degradation."

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