North Coast January 2, 2024 | 8:11 am

Dominican Republic’s Environment Ministry to restore Estillero wetland in Samaná

Samana.- The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources in the Dominican Republic is actively working to restore the Estillero wetland in Las Terrenas, Samaná, specifically focusing on the degraded red mangrove area. José Ramón Reyes López, the Vice Minister of Coastal and Marine Affairs, has extended an invitation for collaboration to academics and environmentalists from Samaná who wish to participate in the restoration efforts.

Although laboratory analyses did not detect herbicides in the wetland, the investigation, aided by the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office for the Protection of the Environment and Natural Resources (Proedemaren), remains ongoing. The restoration will begin following the conclusion of the investigation.

The ministry’s biologists and technicians are examining various aspects of the wetland, including potential drainage, channeling, and filling activities that may be altering the water flow and ecosystem conditions. They are also investigating the red mangrove for possible afflictions like pests or fungi.

Initial assessments have revealed key insights:

1. The first sampling point showed high levels of dissolved oxygen saturation and ammoniacal nitrogen, suggesting the presence of domestic wastewater.
2. The second sampling point exhibited better water quality with significant salinity variations.
3. Sediment analysis did not reveal any herbicide presence.
4. No evidence of putrefactive sediments or deceased aquatic wildlife was found. While different mangrove types are present, only the red mangrove appeared affected. This species is resilient to salinity changes and is usually found in areas with a mix of coastal and surface waters.
5. About 5% of mangrove propagules were impacted, indicating a natural process of replacing older plants with new ones.

The report highlights the necessity of continuous water flow in wetlands for maintaining ecosystem quality and nutrient supply. The preliminary findings suggest that interruptions in fresh and coastal seawater flows could be causing water stress in the wetland.

This restoration project is part of the Dominican Republic’s broader efforts to preserve and rehabilitate vital natural habitats, emphasizing the importance of maintaining healthy and sustainable coastal and marine ecosystems.

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