Play for the Mangroves
The most important environmental issue facing the Dominican Republic (DR) today is the destruction of its coastal mangrove forests. These trees save lives by shielding villages from tropical storm damage, providing a haven for juvenile reef fish, and preventing erosion. And perhaps most important, mangrove ecosystems mitigate global warming by trapping huge amounts of carbon. But people who live near mangrove areas often carry a negative perception about them. An innovative strategy needs to be implemented in order to produce a sustainable change in the attitudes of these people about conservation, especially with young people. Taking advantage of the extreme popularity of sports among DR youth, we plan to provide otherwise unaffordable baseball and volleyball equipment to a group that is mostly composed of underserved Dominican youth. Young people who receive sports equipment will be required to participate in a hands-on training program in mangrove conservation. Following this training, they will be actively involved in critical environmental action (including mangrove replanting) in their local communities, creating not only an environmental benefit but also fostering pride in their unique natural resources. The project will track changes in attitudes about conservation, mangrove size, and spillover effect from access to sports participation.