Friday, May 7, 2010

Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR

The project is conserving an endandered species by increasing its population and diversifying its distribution in the Dominican Republic. The project is educating school children, residents, and local communities about the plight of this species in order to raise awareness. The project includes training of local guides to facilitate bird-watching excursions, creating jobs and economic opportunities. "Bird tourism has a tremendous potential for species protection and job creation." Jake Kheel.
We are reintroducing 3-10 hawks a year of a total population of 300 remaining individuals. By expanding their distribution, we protect the precious few remaining hawks from extinction and improve their chances of survival.

You can help by making a donation through GlobalGiving:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Green Travel Summit, Newport Beach, California

In March 2009, Ecological Foundation Director Jake Kheel participated as a speaker at the Green Travel Summit in Newport Beach, California. The Green Travel Summit is the first fully dedicated forum focused on exploring green travel strategies and their impact on business travel and corporate meetings.

Keynote speaker Auden Schendler was a conference highlight. If you haven't picked up his book "Getting Green Done" yet, its a great and insightful read. "We need fewer visionaries and more grunts." And maybe less conferences.....

Jake Kheel during the the session on "Greening Hotels and venues." Contrary to the majority of the images on this blog, Jake wears a jacket and tie approximately 10 times a year if he can help it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine Awards Honorary Degree to Ted Kheel

On June 3, 2009, the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) bestowed the Honorary Degree Doctor of Humanities and Letters to Theodore Kheel for his many important contributions to the medical school and humanity. The degree is the highest award bestowed by the medical college. Jake Kheel received the degree on his behalf.

Kheel, one of the Founders of PUNTACANA Resort & Club, has had a long and distinguished career in conflict resolution. Over the past two decades, his primary focus has been on addressing what he calls “the most urgent conflict facing humanity today,” the conflict between economic development and environmental protection. The New York Times declared him “the most influential peacemaker in New York City in the last half century,” and Business Week dubbed him “Master Locksmith of Deadlock Bargaining.” He has been called on by presidents, governors, and mayors to act as a mediator or serve on fact-finding boards. Kheel helped found several nonprofits including a 1,500-acre ecological reserve in the Dominican Republic and the Ecological Foundation.

Kheel has helped VCOM arrange a collaborative agreement with the Punta Cana Foundation and Dominican Ministry of Health to establish a permanent medical clinic for over 20,000 immigrant workers without health care in Veron, Dominican Republic. His philanthropic foundations helped to remodel the outdated government clinic where now 4 doctors, nursing staff, HIV/AID staff and VCOM medical students receive 70-90 patients per day. Mr. Kheel has provided guest accommodations at his Punta Cana residence for VCOM faculty and hosted VCOM students on mission trips.

He has catalyzed change in higher education through financial assistance, facilities for international conferences and advocacy for the Global Seminar for Environment and Sustainability, first originating at Cornell University and now affiliated with VCOM. This interactive network of over 50 institutions worldwide recently expanded to medical schools in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Honduras where VCOM has clinics to provide the Global Seminar for Environment and Health.

Grupo PUNTACANA Wins Prestigious World Tourism Travel Council "Tourism for Tomorrow" award

On May 17, in Florianopolis Brazil, The World Travel & Tourism Council announced that Grupo PUNTACANA, the parent company of the PUNTACANA Resort & Club, located in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, has been selected as the winner of the esteemed 2009 Tourism for Tomorrow Award in the Destination Stewardship category. The honor was granted due to the company's dedication and success in developing a program of commitment for sustainable tourism, economic and social wellbeing for their product and surrounding region. The prestigious accolade recognizes the protection of natural and cultural heritage, social and economic benefits to local people, and environmentally-friendly business practices. Grupo PUNTACANA is the first Caribbean organization to be recognized in this category.

According to Jean-Claude Baumgarten, President & CEO of WTTC, PUNTACANA Resort & Club successfully demonstrates sustainable tourism practices on a daily basis. "We are delighted to present the 2009 Destination Stewardship Award to the Grupo PUNTACANA as a tourism enterprise that has over the years developed exceptional programs in sustainable development. These programs have not only helped the local community by providing jobs but also educational and health resources unmatched by other destinations. Sustainability has been in the Grupo PUNTACANA's DNA since its inception, setting the bar high for other companies conducting business in the region."

"We are honored to receive the 2009 Tourism for Tomorrow Destination Stewardship Award. Grupo PUNTACANA strives to be an example of successful regional environmental and social responsibility development for the world's tourism industry," said Frank Rainieri, Founder and CEO of Grupo PUNTACANA. He added, "Our commitment to the Punta Cana region has always been defined by a deep and humble respect for its breathtaking natural treasures and warm, friendly people."

3 finalists for the Destination Stewardship Award were selected by an international team of independent judges for having successfully demonstrated sustainable tourism development practices in all categories including the protection of the surrounding natural and cultural heritage, social and economic benefits to local people, and environmentally-friendly operations. The property was also judged on its efforts to communicate widely with local and international media, as well as other stakeholders, in order to set an example and promote best responsible business practices in the travel & tourism industry. Grupo PUNTACANA demonstrated exceptional commitment in all of the areas mentioned, driven by the company's Ecological Foundation.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Economist Business Roundtable in the Dominican Republic

Grupo PUNTACANA Environmental Director Jake Kheel was invited to speak at the The Economist Business Roundtable in the Dominican Republic on March 18th, 2009 on a panel entitled: "Dominican Voices: Perspectives from a New Generation." The panel was moderated by Ann Szterenfeld from the Economist Intelligence Unit and included Andres van der Horst from the National Competitiveness Council and Darys Estrella from the DR Stock Exchange. 

Following the Business Roundtable, the Economist Intelligence Unit published an article entitled: "Environmental Management Pays Off" about PUNTACANA Resort & Club's environmental practices. You can see the full article on our news page: 

Friday, September 5, 2008

One Person's Pest is Another Person's Product: The Making of Punta Cana Forest Honey

Last week our friend and collegue Fernando Soler from real estate called and asked for our assistance in removing a bee colony that had been established in a new home in the posh "Arrecife" neighborhood of the PUNTACANA Resort & Club.

A group of visiting students from Virginia Tech joined the Ecological Foundation and resident apiculturist, "El Rubio" in removing the colony and transplanting it to the Foundation headquarters. 

The bee removal team arrives. 

Smoke is wafted over the colony to pacify the bees.

El Rubio removes the decorative ceiling to reach the colony. The Ecological Foundation doesn't do carpentry but we do renovations.

Don't try this at home! El Rubio is an experienced apiculturist with more than 15 years working with bees. He is looking for the queen bee.

Once the queen bee is identified she is moved on a comb to her new home. 

Pupilo works for the Ecological Foundation on the apiary project. He is learning the art of apiculture directly from El Rubio.

When the bees realize the queen has moved, they will gradually follow the queen and migrate to the new colony.

El Rubio gives the bees a hand in their move. 

The colony has been successfully removed from the house, the residents are now bee-free. The Foundation will offer them one liter of free honey, but after that they have to pay like everyone else!

El Rubio moves the new colony to the Ecological Foundation apiary. The Foundation has been operating the apiary for over a year, using these "pests" to produce a delicious product: pure honey.

The Foundation has over 65 colonies all collected in the area and from private homes.

Once a month we carefully extract the honey from our colonies and bottle it for sale. We don't add any additives, chemicals, or colorants, our honey is 100% pure from the local forests of Punta Cana.

Visitors can buy Punta Cana Forest Honey at the Ecological Foundation from 8AM - 4PM or at our Farmer's Market in PUNTACANA Village every Saturday beginning at 9AM. All net proceeds benefit the Ecological Foundation's environmental initiatives. You can also schedule a visit to our apiary.