Guidelines for Business Activities: Additional conservation actions
Context: A large gypsum quarry operates in Laguna Cabral, an IBA and a proposed global KBA in the Dominican Republic, within the range of the rhinoceros iguana (Cyclura cornuta), which is endemic to the island of Hispaniola. An estimated 5 percent of the global population of this iguana lives within the area of influence of the quarry operations. The iguana, which is primarily herbivorous, is important for forest ecology, because seeds passing through the animal germinate more rapidly, and it also helps to distribute seeds. According to the IUCN Red List, rhinoceros iguana is globally Vulnerable, threatened by hunting, loss of dry forest habitat, and predation by feral cats and mongoose. Higher levels of deforestation in Haiti mean that the iguana populations there are under even greater pressure than in the Dominican Republic.
The company aims to help boost the iguana population through a mixture of forest restoration, actions against hunting, and improvements to local livelihoods:
º Tree nurseries established at the quarry and in several communities surrounding the KBA provide direct sources of income (those employed to maintain them) and indirect sources of income (from selling fruit they produce).
º ‘Iguaneros’ (local iguana hunters) have been employed, engaged, and trained as local guides to support the project and potentially support future ecotourism, which is being developed in the locality.
º A major remaining challenge is the loss of dry forest for charcoal, and the team is looking at alternative livelihoods for those involved in illegal charcoal production and cutting of dry forest.
The project is a partnership between Grupo Jaragua (BirdLife in the Dominican Republic), BirdLife International, and CEMEX.