Local July 12, 2013 | 3:15 pm

Legal lumbering at Loma Miranda roils environmentalists

Santo Domingo.- The Minister of the Environment on Friday denied indiscriminate lumbering in an area of ??75 hectares in Loma Miranda (central), and affirmed that it’s a forest management plan in effect since 1998.

Bautista Rojas’ affirmation comes just weeks after environmentalists scored a major victory when they pressured the government to reject a mining project by Xstrata Nickel Falcondo

The official, responding to allegations of tree poaching lodged by the Communities United for Water and Life, said "we believe it was due to lack of information and not a matter of interests."

He said 89,040 Dominican Mahogany and pine trees have been planted in the project located at El Pino, La Vega province, under the Environment and Natural Resources Law’s strict forestry guidelines.

He said of that total, the plantation’s owner, Frank Valdez, requests cutting just 3,600 trees. "I want to draw attention to the fact that the Dominican Republic now has a forest cover of 39.6 percent, largely due to the enforcement policy over forest management plans."

Rojas said 900 forest management plans operate nationwide, which I his view not only contribute to environmental preservation but also provide thousands of jobs and wealth for the Dominican people.

He said the Environment Ministry is open to all communities to provide information to the topic. "We want to clarify to public opinion and the media that the activities being carried out in this project are subject to and strictly comply with Law 64-00 and its regulations."

Rojas said he has an unwavering commitment to defend the national interest, such as the environment and natural resources across the country.

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