Local July 21, 2016 | 3:40 pm

Environment rebuffs assertion of ravaged forests, says they’ve grown instead

Santo Domingo.- The Environment Ministry on Thursdayrejected the Punta Cana Foundation’s assertion that the forests of the Sierrade Bahoruco National Park are being ravaged to produce charcoal, which is then exported.

It said the south region’s dry forest has grownsignificantly, "to the point that it has gone, up 45.5 percent this year insome provinces since 2003.

In response to Punta Cana Foundation vice president JakeKheel’s affirmation, Environment said the dry forest growth has contributed to itsaid the best way to manage and protect forests is by making them productive, “becauseit attacks the illegal use of forest resources.”

"Since 2003 until this year, the dry forest has beenan extraordinary growth just in Pedernales province, increasing from 584.91 to874.60 square kilometers, representing 45.5 percent; while in Barahona it hasgone from 378.55 to 405.20 square kilometers, a growth of 22.88 percent," saysa press release.

“The most recent measurements of the country’s forest cover,conducted by our technicians and cooperation agencies as well, established an accuratepercentage higher than 39%, which belies claims that we are losing our forests,although we know that there degraded areas due not only to coal development,but also as a result of inappropriate agricultural practices,” the entity said.

"The Ministry of Environment has only approved two managementplans for coal production. Both have more than 20 years, as began operatingsince 1988 and 1994 respectively; and anyone who visits can checksustainability that are managed, "he says.

It said charcoal production not under official plans isillegal, and therefore, prosecuted by environmental authorities and BorderSecurity (Cesfront) "achieving a significant reduction in recent years,although we recognize the existence of a traffic that has the Haitian market asits destination."


Kheel made the allegation during the American Chamber ofCommerce’s monthly luncheon, where he showed the alleged devastation in adocumentary.

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