Dominican Republic - Environment
The main agencies responsible for environmental protection are the Department of National Parks and the Department of State for Agriculture. The Dominican Republic has environmental problems in the areas of deforestation, water supply, and soil erosion, and as the eroding soil enters the sea, it damages the nation's coral reefs as well. UN sources report that, as of 1993, the nation was losing 20,000 hectares per year of its forest lands largely due to commercial interests. The felling of trees was prohibited in 1967 to remedy the ill effects of indiscriminate cutting by commercial producers and farmers and the destruction by fire of large stands of timber. However, many farmers continue to cut trees surreptitiously to make more land available for cultivation. Soil erosion results from a combination of rainfall and the use of land in mountainous areas. The country has 21 cu km of renewable water resources with 89% used for farming. About 97% of the population has access to pure drinking water. Water pollution results from the effects of mining along with industrial and agricultural sources.
Endangered species in the Dominican Republic include the tundra peregrine falcon, Haitian solenodon, three species of sea turtle (green sea, hawksbill, and leatherback), and American crocodile. In 2001, 4 of the country's mammal species and 11 bird species were considered endangered, as were 10 types of reptiles and 62 plant species. The imposter hutia, the Hispaniolan edible rat, and Marcano's solenodon have become extinct.