The first environmental regulations in the Dominican Republic were enforced at the beginning of the twentieth century as a result of indiscriminate felling of trees. The first municipal ordinance was enacted in 1901 prohibiting both felling and streams pollution. Later, in 1927 the first protected area in the country was created which was called Vedado del Yaque [Yaque’s Preserve]. This deed constituted a landmark in the history of environmental legislative evolution in the Dominican Republic. These initiatives became the first steps to organize the environmental management system and would result on the basis of unified environmental legislation soon to come. All in all, environmental legislation in the Dominican Republic has been enacted through the years in a dispersed manner until promulgation in 2000 of the Environmental and Natural Resources General Law No. 64-00, which has become one of the most up-to-date legal instruments of its kind in Latin America.

This law sets forth the regulations for the protection, of the environment and natural resources while ensuring sustainable use. Some of the basic values of the Environmental and Natural Resources General Law and the environmental policies of the country include the Precaution principle, the Principle of “Whoever pollutes, pays”, the Tort Principle, the Participation Principle, the Principle “In dubio pro natura”, the ab initio Prohibition Principle and the Public Order Principle, among others. (Article 17 of Environmental and Natural Resources General Law 64-00.)

It is relevant to mention that the new Constitution of the Dominican Republic, enacted in 2010, recognizes the right to use natural resources for the first time in its history, as well as the right of its inhabitants to enjoy a healthy environment for the development and preservation of the life, landscape and nature.

Concerning enforcement of current environmental legislation, Law 64-00 appointed the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources as the “environment, ecosystems, and natural resources policy-making body…”. This Ministry is formed by several under-Ministries, each one of which is responsible for a separate subject area: 1. Environmental Management; 2. Soil and Water; 3. Forestry Resources; 4. Protected Areas and Biodiversity; and 5. Coastal and Marine Resources, among others.

Within the scope of the law, the specialized agency, as well as the courts of first instance, is fully authorized to judge issues related to non-compliance or violations of Dominican environmental law. In the first case, the Office for the Defence of the Environment and Natural Resources is a specialized department of the Attorney General’s Office, which exercises representation and defence of the State and society’s interests on environmental issues in all proceedings for violations of environmental legislation.

If you wish to read detail information in environment as well as Quiroz Santroni’s performance and expertise in this legal practice, please visit: The International Comparative Legal Guide for Environment and Climate Change by 2015.