Over the last 30 years, deforestation in Haiti has reached a crisis point. With less than two percent of the country’s native forests intact, each rainy season brings monsoons that wash away more precious topsoil, gouging out riverbanks, creating devastating impacts for communities that depend on the land for food, water, shade, medicine, and other goods. The lack of environmental stability can worsen conditions for families beset by hardships from earthquakes or political unrest.
In 2011, The Haiti Tree Project was established in Cavaillon, Haiti, to help regenerate the lush forests that provide ecological balance and food for communities by scaling pre-existing reforestation efforts. Along with shade-grown cacao trees, breadfruit trees along the rivers, and cashew trees on the mountainsides, the reforestation efforts also incorporate a variety of indigenous tree species that support habitat restoration for the region’s abundant biodiversity. In ten years, the project has planted over 100,000 trees, a mixture of both fruit and native hardwood trees, as well as provided hundreds of hours of community education about how to plant and care for the trees.
We work directly with the communities to fund seedlings, build nurseries, and provide education on reforestation and sustainable agroforestry techniques. We also install critical fencing in some areas to protect community water sources from waterborne diseases and protect young trees as they get established. Our nimble operation exists solely because of help from our partnering organizations, donors, and a dedicated team in Haiti. We now have one tree nursery providing trees year-round in Saint Louis-de-Sud and another site established along the main road that has unlimited capacity to grow any number of trees. These nurseries not only help communities plant the trees they value most, but they also employ mostly women who would otherwise have a difficult time finding paid work. But above all, the role of THTP is to support community reforestation programs run by the local people with their own vision always in mind.