Deforestation is one of the most serious of Haiti's problems. Trees are being cut down at an alarming rate to make charcoal, which is ready cash for families struggling to survive. There are no fossil fuels in Haiti and solar power is in its infancy.
The forest coverage at the time of Columbus was estimated to be 95%, by the 1930s it was estimated at 35%. The island's soil, once so productive, earned it the name, Pearl of the Antilles. The land, once so fertile, is now depleted. Not only does forest coverage today stand at 2-4%, but the soil is exhausted from monoculture and overuse.
Through our small village demonstration project, a program carefully crafted and controlled, we will show how things can turn around in one village on the southern peninsula. Our hope is that it will be a model for neighboring villages.
We have engaged an enthusiastic director and have leased five acres of land nearby to create a network of nurseries in the commune of Fond des Blanc. The soil will be enhanced with compost to prepare the seedlings, later to be distributed to the local community. Our plan is a program of hands-on learning for a better understanding of the biological life cycle of plants and to show the effect of compost on the depleted soil. We will draw from eager and ambitious local members of RATRAP, a small farmers’ cooperative created in 1994, to join us in the work of halting the unbridled tree cutting.
There will be three kinds of trees planted and given away in exchange for work completed. A contract of responsibility for ongoing care of the trees will be signed. A team of agronomy technicians will monitor tree growth regularly and rewards for good care and watering will be given to the farmers annually.
- Neems and Leucaenas trees will be targeted for charcoal and seedlings will be offered to farmers in order to not interfere with their current charcoal income.
- Fruit trees, once plentiful and indigenous to the region, will be planted and distributed with the aim of creating an alternative income stream for families. These will include citrus of all kinds, avocado, cajou, cacao, papaya, benzolive, mango, and campeches.
- These will be called "posterity trees" and they will be for Haiti, for the environment, for the community, and will be forbidden to cut. These will bring stability to the soil, beauty and shade while absorbing CO2 for carbon sequestration.
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make a tax-deductable donation.
Greening Haiti Fund, Inc.
31 Leonard Street
Gloucester, MA 01930
phone: Sarah Hackett, 978-283-0892