Local May 29, 2023 | 8:49 am

Forest preservation of watersheds to mitigate drought in the Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo.- The United Nations Organization (UN) and meteorological experts predict that the upcoming hurricane season, lasting from June 1 to November 30, will be influenced by the El Niño phenomenon. They anticipate an 80% chance of its occurrence between July and September, leading to elevated global temperatures, droughts, and reduced rainfall in the region. Adding to these concerns are the warnings of a “new uptick in global warming” alongside the recent trend of the eight warmest years on record.

The Dominican Republic, already vulnerable to these atmospheric phenomena, has witnessed the depletion or diminishment of its vital water sources, such as streams, rivers, and ravines, due to inadequate preservation of the forest cover in hydrographic basins. Consequently, the impact of El Niño or any other extreme event becomes significantly amplified, particularly in the most vulnerable areas of the country. Deforestation and anthropogenic contamination have contributed to a decrease in available water, regardless of rainfall intensity. The lack of infrastructure for water storage further exacerbates the situation.

According to Domingo Marte’s book “Ríos Dominicanos: redes de Vida” published by Banco Popular, the decrease in the quantity and quality of water in rivers can be attributed to deforestation in the upper and middle regions, as well as the erosion of riverbeds in the lower areas. Chemical contamination, waste disposal, and solid waste also contribute to significant water loss. Additionally, the health of beaches and seas is interconnected with the well-being of rivers. While the overall water supply exceeds demand, inadequate infrastructure for water storage remains a critical issue.

The Dominican Republic’s focus lies on preserving, restoring, and protecting the 12 rivers with the largest basin areas, which are crucial for disaster risk management and mitigating extreme drought. These rivers include Yaque del Norte, Yuna, Yaque del Sur, Ozama, Artibonito, Higuamo, Soco, Yásica, Bajabonico, Ocoa, Boba, and Haina. Their conservation is fundamental to maintaining water-generating capacity and ensuring water security in the face of ongoing challenges posed by El Niño and deforestation.

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