Climate Risk Management Strengthens Biodiversity Conservation in Dominican Republic: Savings Achieved with CRM-Informed Habitat Restoration

By Jamie Carson, Elizabeth Hutchison
This blog is part of the Benefits of Climate Risk Management blog series that aims to provide evidence-based deep dives into USAID case studies.
Those who live in and around the Dominican Republic’s Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo UNESCO Biosphere Reserve have a first-hand understanding of the costly realities of climate change. Harsh, dry conditions and extreme weather make climate risks part of daily life and a top consideration in efforts to protect endemic species. This rang true for the Conservation of Hispaniola’s Rock Iguanas project. Launched in November 2018, the project aims to preserve the endangered Ricord’s and rhinoceros rock iguanas that make their home in the reserve’s dry forests. 

With support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), USAID, and implementing partner Grupo Jaragua, the project incorporated climate risk management (CRM) and community engagement activities to advance its objectives – tapping into the strong national pride for the island of Hispaniola’s biodiversity to achieve results. A climate risk assessment conducted during the project’s design enabled implementers to coordinate conservation strategies with known weather events that could enhance or hinder iguana habitat restoration planting activities.
The island of Hispaniola, shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti, is home to two endangered species of rock iguanas. Key rock iguana habitats overlap in the Dominican Republic’s Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve.