REDD in Dominican Republic
The main governmental body responsible for environmental issues is the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. The Ministry works with other regional and international actors involved in environmental issues, such as the Central American Environment and Development Commission (CCAD) of the Environmental Agency of the Central American Integration System (SICA) to manage, coordinate and fund environmental and development projects in the country.
Regarding activities revolving around climate change mitigation and adaptation, the National Council for Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism (CNCCMDL) is responsible for managing projects under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), including reforestation and afforestation projects. With regard to REDD+ specifically, the ministry is responsible for the country’s participation in the Regional REDD Programme in Central America and the Dominican Republic, which is an initiative across eight countries in the region. Other activities related to REDD+ are coordinated by international NGOs and agencies, such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the German Organisation for International Cooperation (GIZ)and the French Development Agency (AFD) in collaboration with national authorities and NGOs including Progressio Foundation and the Sur Futuro Foundation.
Stakeholder engagement and participation
The Government of the Dominican Republic has created a permanent consultation and coordination group for forest-related issued called the Working Group on Forest Dialogue (Mesa de Dialogo sobre Bosques). The working group is composed of representatives of the forestry sector’s main stakeholders, including forestry businesses, government departments, NGOs and academia. The members of the group actively participate in the design and implementation of measures, policy instruments and proposals for public and private sustainable management of all types of forests in the Dominican Republic (CEDAF, n.d.). The members of the group actively participate in the design and implementation of measures, policy instruments and proposals for public and private sustainable management of forests in the Dominican Republic (CEDAF, n.d.). For instance, the Working Group on Forest Dialogue has been participating in the drafting of a new forestry law. This new version of the law which will replace the 1999 Forestry Law will include an MRV methodology to be used in the context of REDD+ (CEDAF, 2008).
Land tenure arrangements and carbon rights
About 70 per cent of forests in the Dominican Republic belong to the state, and most are found within national parks. However, any trees of endemic or endangered species with historic or cultural value also belong to the State, regardless of whose property they are on. Private property is unequally distributed in the Dominican Republic. A relatively recent study has shown that approximately 15 per cent of landowners owned the majority (88 per cent) of agricultural land, whereas 85 per cent of landowners owned less than 5 hectares of land each, comprising a total of 12 per cent of agricultural land (Castro el al, 2005).
In the Dominican Republic, private owners of forest land must ensure that the forest is conserved, or that reforestation of native species takes place on their land. Moreover, all properties - both public and private - containing forests must be registered in the public forest registrar. If the land is not registered, no benefits can be gained from the incentives created for forest conservation. This is important to mention as a pilot project for payment for ecosystem services (PES) is currently taking place in the basin of the river Yaque del Norte and a law regulating PES projects is being developed (July 2013). Also, once registered, landowners can apply to the government and obtain certification that their land is ideal for forest growth, which makes them eligible for funding for reforestation projects.
As of 2012, only about a quarter of the country’s rural land is estimated to be registered but measures to combat this problem are underway. Land registry offices are being set up throughout the country and a cadastre system with digitalised property titles is being developed. These reforms are overseen by the State Lands Titling Commission, formed in 2012, with the aim of titling 150.000 properties by 2017 (USAID, 2012, p.3-12). However, lack of clarity in tenure registration procedures, the high cost of land registration, as well as the presence of a formal, and informal market for land, have been identified as challenges within the current tenure system (Tejada, 2000). In addition to this, land tenure insecurity is a persisting problem due to government land expropriations and weaknesses in governance structures such as the lack of effective enforcement and support to local communities for land invasions and squatting (USAID, 2012). These issues, have been discussed but have not yet been addressed in the nationally implemented Regional REDD Programme in Central America and the Dominican Republic (Diaz, 2008).
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources is the government institution responsible for managing, protecting and preserving the Dominican Republic’s natural resources. Within the Ministry, the Department of Forest Management is responsible for ensuring the implementation of regulations governing forestry activities, ensuring compliance with forest protection laws and policies, as well as selecting and managing civil and military forest guards who monitor the protected areas and report illegal activities. Enforcement strategies used by the Dominican Republic include fines and incarceration. For example Law 632, prohibits illegal logging, which is punishable by law with fines of up to RD$10,000 (approximately US$300) and 6 to 12 months of jail. There are also laws that create incentives for forest development and conservation, such as Law 290, which offers tax exonerations and reductions for people who invest in reforestation, Law 202 on protected areas and the General Environmental Law 64-00, which create the possibility of payments for ecosystem services in the country. A Certification Program for Plantations has also been set up, incentivising landowners who reforest their land with tree crops.
Reference level for REDD+ are under development in the Dominican Republic. In June 2011, the Regional REDD Programme in Central America and the Dominican Republic held a workshop on developing a National Forest Monitoring System (REDD Programme, CCAD & GIZ, 2011). The outcomes of the workshop suggested the creation of a national baseline scenario and developing a methodology for establishing reference levels within a pilot area, which could then be scaled up nationally.
Discussions began during the national implementation of the Regional REDD Programme regarding the creation of a multilevel monitoring system, which would take into account national, subnational and project level information related to REDD+. As part of the REDD Programme, the German Organisation for International Cooperation (GIZ) is planned to provide technical training and assistance for the development of the methodology for the measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) of emissions reductions (REDD Regional Programme, 2010). In June 2011, a national forest monitoring system workshop was held which proposed the establishment of forest cover maps at the regional, national, subnational and project level. This is to be done by using satellite imagery, the quantification of biomass and forest carbon and the merging of existing data sets, and the inclusion of the measurements of all major carbon pools in a planned national forest inventory (REDD Programme, CCAD & GIZ, 2011).
There is no formal system for addressing safeguards for REDD+ at the national level in the Dominican Republic. As a member of the Central American Environment and Development Commission (CCAD) – which is the Central American Integration System’s (SICA) environmental body promoting sustainable development and strengthening regional environmental management - the country is likely to affirm the position of the CCAD which states that ‘REDD policies should recognise rights and conservation practices, uses and sustainable management from indigenous people and local communities’ (CCAD and SICA, 2010). Under the Regional REDD Programme in Central America and the Dominican Republic, representatives from the Ministry for environment and natural resources and forest managers have participated in a number workshop on safeguards. The latest meeting in May, 2013 established a regional work plan for the group and assessed the current state of work on safeguards in the participating countries (CCAD & GIZ, 2013).
The Dominican Republic’s 2014 R-PP plans to take into account gender equality when identifying stakeholders for their engagement in the REDD+ process (Sections 1a and 1b). It aims to support women in development processes, natural resource allocation and environmental protection (Section 1b.3), and calls for a gender perspective to be taken in all REDD+ projects. It underlines the existence of several institutions dealing with gender specific issues, such as the Equity, Gender and Development Office and Gender Focal Teams in all provincial directorates. The R-PP also acknowledges the importance of the Strategy for Gender Mainstreaming in Environmental Management, the Gender Awareness Guide for Natural Resource Management, and Gender and Climate Change forums (Ibid). It recognises the need to specifically utilise these plans, and involve these institutions in the design and implementation of REDD+ in order to ensure for example that female forest stakeholders benefit from balanced consultations, training, development of skills, adequate access to information and equitable benefit-sharing mechanisms (Ibid).
According to the R-PP, there are several women’s organisations that deal specifically with women’s issues related to REDD+ including Centro de la Mujer y Participación (CEDEMUR) and Promoción de la Mujer del Sur (PROMUS). The REDD-CCAD-GIZ programme aims to adopt a gender-based approach when carrying out its activities.
The legal framework offers a relatively weak foundation for gender-related considerations. References to gender equality in the Constitution are limited to the need for balanced participation by women and men in all government agencies and judicial bodies (Article 39). Likewise, the National Development Strategy (Law No 01-12) states that public policy shall promote social participation in decision-making which should facilitate, inter alia, gender equality. Men are the main beneficiaries of agrarian reforms with women owning only 30% of all land (CEDAW, 2011). On the other hand, the number of women that have been granted loans has almost reached parity with men, and the majority of microcredits awarded in the Dominican Republic go to women (SIGI 2014).
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