One of the downsides of tourism development, say critics, is its impact on the environment, particularly natural habitats. But in recent years, we’ve seen a growing number of initiatives to minimize its effects – for example, recycling, solar power, and other green practices, in addition to hiring biologists and other scientists to restore and even oversee development in ways beneficial to local environments. On a recent trip to the Dominican Republic’s premier resort area, Punta Cana, I discovered one remarkable organization that’s in the forefront of that effort.

The Punta Cana Ecological Foundation is a marquis project of the Punta Cana Resort and Club, an exclusive, 200-room Westin resort just south of the airport, and which I had the pleasure of visiting very recently. In addition to being a sterling example of contemporary Caribbean luxury, the resort’s ownership (which include singer Julio Iglesias) takes its environmental responsibilities more seriously than many, and for 15 years have supported this foundation – which in turn has an ongoing impact on resort operations in numerous ways.

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