In addition to the highest peak in the Caribbean (Pico Duarte), one of the largest salt water lakes inhabited by crocodiles in the world (Lago Enriquillo), and some of the most intricate cave systems found on earth (Fun Fun Caves), the Dominican Republic offers much more on its ecological menu than initially meets the eye. Valle Nuevo, the largest National Park on the island, has caught the eye of ISV-DR and inspired one of our newest environmental and community development initiatives.
El Castillo is a small village located within the boundaries of Valle Nuevo National Park whose 65 families are primarily involved in agriculture. Recently, the Ministry of the Environment has curtailed certain agricultural activities within the park, economically stressing this already poor and underserved community. At this juncture, the village faces an uncertain future.
In collaboration with the Jose Delio Guzman Foundation, ISV has laid foundations for the creation of three ecological trails within Valle Nuevo National Park, along with the development of a program to train guides from the nearby village of El Castillo.
The benefits for the various stakeholders are numerous: For the Park, these trails would represent an improvement which would help attract more visitors and thus provide a needed increase in entrance fee collection. For the visitors, domestic and international, these trails would represent one of the few opportunities to experience first-hand the unique diversity of this park’s offerings. For the residents of El Castillo, the eco-trails would represent a way to diversify their incomes through becoming trained as guides, as well as provide opportunities to sell hand- made crafts and other goods to park visitors.
Volunteers travelling with ISV to the Dominican Republic next season will play a pivotal role in executing this project by supporting community development through this unique environmental initiative.
ISV Program Coordinator