A new initiative is being launched to help protect coral reefs in the Dominican Republic. A partnership between the Reef-World Foundation and the TUI Care Foundation will bring together local communities and businesses to receive training on sustainable environmental practices. Members of the local population and more than 65,000 tourists will learn about coral reef conservations through programmes led by the initiative’s Youth Ambassadors.
Coral reefs are an important source of food and income for the Dominican Republic’s ten million inhabitants, 80 per cent of whom live on the coast and 20 per cent of whom live in extreme poverty. The ocean supports half of all the islanders’ livelihoods through fisheries and tourism, but the marine ecosystems are under serious threat from climate change, intensive scuba diving, snorkelling and other tourist activities.
The initiative is part of the international TUI Junior Academy programme, which seeks to ‘[open] up new opportunities and perspectives through education and training’, and which will deliver marine environmental education courses to the local Youth Ambassadors, inspiring them to champion coral reef conservation projects and lead activities within their local communities. The initiative will also partner with Reef Check Dominican Republic and the Ministry of Environment to introduce environmentally friendly guidelines promoting sustainable diving and snorkelling. The Reef-World Foundation’s Green Fins initiative will help local operators to prevent any further deterioration of the local reefs.
Thomas Ellerbeck, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the TUI Care Foundation, said: ‘The Dominican Republic is surrounded by extraordinary coral reefs which constitute a key component of the island’s unique natural heritage and biodiversity. Local economic activities, such as fishing, and marine life in general, rely on strong, healthy reefs. We are very excited to be launching this new project with Reef-World that brings the local community together and puts education at the very centre of future environmentally sustainable solutions.’
JJ Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation, said: ‘As well as being a precious natural ecosystem, the Dominican Republic’s coral reefs provide food and livelihoods for many people in the country and so represent a valuable financial asset worth protecting. By building the capacity of the marine tourism industry to follow best environmental practice, our Youth Ambassador Coral Reef Conservation Programme will engage over 1,000 teenagers across 15 schools with the ripple effect reaching approximately 1,800 community members and over 2,000 family members. We’re proud to be working with the TUI Care Foundation to empower citizens
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