Geography Publications and Other Works

Source Publication (e.g., journal title)

Revista Verdor [Academy of Sciences of the Dominican Republic] 8(2): 102–109, 2016.

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2016


Fire in Highland Pine Forests of the Dominican Republic―The Long View

Large forest fires in Valle Nuevo National Park in 2014 and 2015 have increased interest in fire as an ecological force in montane pine forests of the Dominican Republic. Geographer Dr. José Ramón Martínez Batlle estimated using Landsat imagery and GIS that some 4700 ha burned in July 2014 (, and an additional 1600 ha burned in late April 2015 (

Since 1995, when I first visited what is today Valle Nuevo National Park (then, Valle Nuevo Scientific Reserve), as a guest of the Moscoso Puello Foundation and Mr. Andrés Ferrer, I have been interested in pine forests and savannas of the Dominican highlands. I have made seven visits to the highlands, four to Valle Nuevo and three to the more remote highlands surrounding Pico Duarte, in Armando Bermúdez National Park and José del Carmen Ramírez National Park. With colleagues and students at the University of Tennessee, where I am a professor of Geography, I have carried out studies of modern and ancient highland environments, focused particularly on fire and climate in shaping highland ecosystems, and on evidence of the long-term history of fire and climate. I describe and illustrate some of these studies here.

The work I describe has been supported by grants from the National Geographic Society, The National Science Foundation, the University of Tennessee, and the Moscoso Puello Foundation. The Moscoso Puello Foundation has also provided key logistical support without which the work would have been impossible. My principal collaborators are Drs. Ken Orvis, Michael Clark, and Henri Grissino-Mayer from the University of Tennessee; Dr. Lisa Kennedy from Virginia Tech University; and Dr. Jim Speer from Indiana State University. Lisa and Jim were graduate students when they first began working with us in the Dominican highlands: they are now themselves professors, and Lisa has returned to the Dominican Republic with her own students. In this article I also mention information on fires included in the Fire Management Assessment of the Highland Ecosystems of the Dominican Republic that was carried out by Dr. Ronald Myers and a team of fire management and ecology experts from The Nature Conservancy and other organizations in 2003 (

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