Local October 31, 2016 | 10:14 am

As eviction clock ticks, farmers stay put in protected highlands

Constanza, Dominican Republic.- Dozens ofvillages and country villas continue perched atop a prodigious farming areadespite the Environment Ministry’s announced eviction within 120 days one monthago.

Thus far none of the farmers has descendedfrom the vast protected area, one of the country’s main sources of water forproduction and to irrigate vast tracts of farmlands.

Located 20 mountainous kilometers south ofConstanza within the Juan Bautista Perez Rancier National Park, Valle Nuevo boastsplantations of potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage and other products usuallyharvested in temperate climates.

Outlet eldia.com.do reports that in somecases the plots exceed one hectare, whose trees have been cleared.

"What’s happening now is that many peoplewho 15 years ago had one hectare of land now have twice that and more. How do Iget those acres if it isn’t ravaging it?" said Constanza EnvironmentalCouncil member Frarman Garcia.

Farmers justify

With their crops planted more than 1,000 metersabove sea level , the farmers squatting in Valle Nuevo say they’ve living therefor more than 50 years.

"When this was made a National Park itwas done with houses and agriculture in there," said Leonidas Aquino, afarmer who lives with his family in the vilage, Los Castillos.