The Bahoruco Summer Camp was held for a second year in a row in the town of Puerto Escondido, Dominican Republic, on the 27 and 28 of last August. This free educational activity is conducted since 2010 by Grupo Jaragua (BirdLife in the Dominican Republic), the local grassroots organization Voluntarios Comunitarios de Jaragua and the Puerto Escondido Birding Club.
The name of Bahoruco Summer Camp is inspired by the Sierra de Bahoruco National Park (SBNP), a protected area of great importance for biodiversity in the Dominican Republic and the insular Caribbean Region. The SBNP is one of three core areas of the country´s unique Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve, as well as an Important Bird Area (DOOO6 Sierra de Bahoruco) and an Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) site. Despite its importance, the SBNP suffers serious threats (of different nature and magnitude) for the continued expansion of the agricultural frontier, the impact of introduced species on the natural habitats and native species; forest fires; the exploitation of threatened species-such as the Vulnerable Hispaniolan Parrot (Amazona ventralis) and Vulnerable Hispaniolan parakeet (Aratinga chloroptera)-for the pet trade, among other pressures .
“The goal of our summer camps is to motivate children from local communities to understand and conserve the natural and cultural resources of the Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve, as a contribution to the sustainable human development in their communities”, said Yvonne Arias, President of Grupo Jaragua. “In the camps we work under the constructivist model and promote values such as social and gender equality; community self-management; the search for solutions through consensus; tolerance; discipline and respect for diversity of ideas”, Yvonne Arias added. Notably, Grupo Jaragua has been celebrating a summer camp aimed at the communities surrounding the Jaragua National Park for the past 15 years.
The main focus of summer camp was the conservation of the Endangered Bay-breasted Cuckoo (Coccyzus rufigularis). Recent sightings of this species, in the Biosphere Reserve, are from a forested area in Loma Charco Azul Biological Reserve that is under constant pressure from agricultural expansion; the Loma Charco Azul Biological Reserve and the SBNP are neighboring protected areas. Other topics covered in the program were the International Year of Forests, the International Year of the Bat, and the process of creating the Bahoruco National Park in the year 1983.
The Bahoruco Summer Camp was able to join a total of 48 children and was supported by 71 members of the community who assisted in the coordination, implementation and facilitation. In the closing ceremony of the event the participants got the opportunity to present their artistic creations and 8 received gifts and a certificate for ”Outstanding Participant”. The event ended with a toast.
Grupo Jaragua reveived support from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Araucaria XXI project; the Canadian International Development Agency (through Nature Canada); the MacArthur Foundation; BirdLife International, and the Dominican Government.
Photo credits: Grupo Jaragua
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