Joint BSA/ASPT award funds sustainability workshop in the Dominican Republic

The ASPT Environment and Public Policy Committee and the BSA Public Policy Committee, awarded $1,000 in support of a workshop entitled "Plant Conservation and Sustainable Management by women in the Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve, Dominican Republic: Community Workshop and Local Capacity”.

The workshop was held on August 31st, 2017, in Oviedo, Perdenales, Dominican Republic and it was a great success. Below are some photos of the participants and their garden instruction. Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo is the only biosphere reserve on Hispaniola Island. It is located in the southwestern part of the Dominican Republic, near the boundary with Haiti. This area is rich in biodiversity and plant endemism, and many of the plants are valued for their medicinal properties. All of the biodiversity of this area is threatened by human activities, mainly deforestation for charcoal making, low-yield cattle ranching, or subsistence agriculture. These activities are putting at risk many locally endemic species, such as Pimenta haitiensis, an endemic medicinal plant widely used in the country.

The first essential step in biodiversity conservation in any threatened area is to integrate the local communities. By working closely with rural populations who are in contact with the biodiversity of the reserve, programs like this can help promote the educational and economic development that can help alleviate poverty in the region. This workshop promoted the conservation of endemic and native plants in the Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve and encouraged the sustainable use of native plants by women of local communities. Most of the plants that were used for planting at the garden are endangered and rare species, traditionally used by local communities as source of fruits, and medicinal and aromatic plants. 

The 2017 Botany Advocacy Leadership Award provided the necessary funds to Jackeline Salazar to pay for supplies, travel, and compensation for the teachers involved in the workshop. This annual award organized by the Environmental and Public Policy Committees of BSA and ASPT aims to support local efforts that contribute to shaping public policy on issues relevant to plant sciences.