Text: Sitaraah Joshi
The TUI Care Foundation and the Reef-World Foundation are setting up a new initiative to help protect coral reefs in the Dominican Republic. This marriage will help promote environmental stewardship by involving important community members to center their attention to these important ecosystems. More than 300 people from various local reef-based businesses are going to receive special training on how to work more sustainably. Over 65,000 tourists will receive information on the protection of the reefs, with over 2,000 members also learning about reef protection through the environmental activities of Youth Ambassadors. From figures, it can be agreed that there is a fair amount of effort that has been put into encouraging the protection of the Dominican Republic’s reefs.
What’s happening now?
Coral reefs are an important source of food and income for the Dominican Republic since 20% of the population is living in extreme poverty and 80% of the Islands 10 million inhabitants live on the coast. The ocean supports 50% of all livelihoods, mostly through fisheries and tourism. But these marine ecosystems are threatened. Activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, and sailing coupled with the impacts of climate change can directly damage the coral — which affects the fragile ecosystem.
The initiative is part of the international TUI Junior Academy program and will provide customized marine environmental education courses to Youth Ambassadors, motivating them to advocate coral reef conservation projects and lead activities within their communities. It will also institute environmentally friendly guidelines to promote sustainable snorkeling and diving. This will aid in reducing any local deterioration of the coral reef and building resilience to global challenges. In collaboration with Reef Check Dominican Republic and the Ministry of Environment of the Dominican Republic, the project’s main focus is to significantly reduce detrimental change to coral reefs by building awareness of, and managing, environmentally friendly practices for diving and snorkeling activities.
Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the TUI Care Foundation, Thomas Ellerbeck, stated: “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 center of future environmentally sustainable solutions”.
Reef-based tourist leaders, local resource managers, and educational leaders in the area will be delegated to deliver marine educational programs to young people, which will elevate their awareness of environmental issues and help them understand how to protect the environment. Working hand in hand with local teachers and the Ministry of Education, their project will also strengthen the marine environmental material within the national curriculum. Resultantly, this initiative tries to strengthen livelihoods, curtail poverty and protect the environment in the Dominican Republic.
Director at The Reef-World Foundation, JJ Harvey, stated: “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 the 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 of the Dominican Republic to protect their natural assets for many years to come.”
Furthermore, the Reef-World Foundation directs the Green Fins initiative in the Dominican Republic, which is executed through a network approach spearheaded by Reef Check Dominican Republic in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Natual Resources, the Auxiliary Navy, the Coastal Biodiversity and Tourism project, as well as the local community and conversation group CEBSE.
To know more about TUI Care Foundation and Reef-World’s efforts in the Dominican Republic and around the globe, click here!
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What is the TUI Care Foundation?
Building on the potential of tourism as a force for good, the TUI Care Foundation supports and initiates partnerships and projects, which create new opportunities for the young generation and contribute to thriving communities all over the world. Connecting holidaymakers to good causes, the TUI Care Foundation fosters education and training initiatives to open up new opportunities and perspectives for young people, the protection of the natural environment in holiday destinations and sustainable livelihoods in thriving destinations where local communities can benefit even more from tourism. TUI Care Foundation works globally and acts locally – it builds on strong partnerships with local and international organizations to create meaningful and long-lasting impact. The charitable foundation values transparency and the efficient use of funds. Therefore 100% of the donations go to destination programs with all administration costs of the foundation covered by TUI. TUI Care Foundation was founded by TUI, the world’s leading tourism business, and is based in the Netherlands.
What is the Reef-World Foundation?
The Reef-World Foundation is a registered UK charity that delivers practical solutions for marine conservation around the world. The charity promotes the responsible use of natural resources – particularly coral reefs and related ecosystems – for the benefit of local communities, visitors and future generations. It is dedicated to supporting, inspiring and empowering governments, businesses, communities, and individuals around the world to conserve and develop coastal resources sustainably.
Reef-World leads the global implementation of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative, which focuses on the global promotion of environmentally friendly scuba diving and snorkeling practices across the industry. As well as providing low cost, practical solutions to local and industry-wide environmental challenges associated with the marine tourism industry, the charity also provides education and capacity building assistance to empower environmental champions (within the diving industry, local communities, authorities, and governments) to implement proven coastal resource management approaches.
What is Green Fins?
Green Fins is an established conservation management approach – spearheaded by The Reef-World Foundation in partnership with the UN Environment Programme – which leads to a measurable reduction in the negative environmental impacts associated with the marine tourism industry. The initiative aims to protect and conserve coral reefs through environmentally friendly guidelines that promote a sustainable diving and snorkeling tourism industry. It provides the only internationally recognized environmental standards for the diving and snorkeling industry and has a robust assessment system to measure compliance.
Green Fins encourages and empowers members of the diving industry to act to reduce the pressures on coral reefs by offering dive and snorkel companies practical, low-cost alternatives to harmful practices – such as anchoring, fish feeding, and chemical pollution – as well as providing strategic training, support, and resources. Reducing the local direct and indirect pressures tourism puts on coral reefs helps to make coral healthier and more resilient to other stresses such as the effects of climate change. Look for the Green Fins logo when booking your next dive trip