Environment

International agency exploring reforestation project for Haiti

Monday, November 18, 2013    

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WARSAW, Poland (CMC) — An international development agency says it is exploring the possibility of replicating in Haiti a reforestation project that has been significantly successful in Africa. Deforestation is a major problem in Haiti, the western hemisphere's poorest nation.

World Vision Australia's Business Unit Manager, of Food and Security and Climate Change, Tim Morris, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that his organisation is examining the possibility of implementing the "Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration" (FMNR) project in Haiti.

The FMNR is the systematic regeneration and management of pre-existing tree stumps and root systems to restore degraded barren land to farmland and forest.

The programme aims to reforest two million hectares over five years in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda.

The Haitian Times said in the absence of other viable alternatives, cutting down trees became a feasible option that allowed struggling populations in Haiti to use trees to make charcoal in order to sell it and support their families.

Climate change watchdog Germanwatch released a report earlier this week saying Haiti is the country most affected by climate related catastrophes over the past decade.

Morris told CMC that Tony Rinaudo, World Vision's research and development advisor on natural resources, visited Haiti recently "to examine the degraded landscape in the area".

He said that Rinaudo met with World Vision officers in Haiti to evaluate the satiation and the potential for implementation of the FMNR programme.

"Again, because it is all slash and burn of the tree stumps, there is potential to do this work. I think there is potential for energy efficiency as well (but) it's early days," Morris told CMC.

World Vision is already active in Haiti in a number of areas, including child protection, education, maternal and new-born health.

"But this technique of restoring land, this is a scoping mission," Morris said, adding that there are multiple potential benefits of the FMNR programme, particularly in coastal environment and environments exposed to storm activity.

The project can enhance soil integrity and prevent erosion, which will build resistance to storm surge and inundation, Morris said.

He explained that such protection will bring back trees to protect against coastal erosion and thereby raise the fertility of soil.

"It has been found that when the technique is implemented, particularly around water catchment areas, that can have benefits to improving soil integrity for agricultural purposes," Morris said.

"The other thing to note is that it is not necessarily about clear felling a forest, but selective pruning so that people can still get fodder for livestock, timber for building, and also for cooking without decimating the forest. It will attract animals back as well and indigenous trees that may have bus foods available as well. There is really a range of benefits that can come with restoring the land with national regeneration techniques," Morris told CMC.

The Haitian Times reported that 2013 has been declared "the year of the environment" in Haiti.

Earlier this year, the Haitian Government launched a national reforestation initiative to double Haiti's forest cover by 2016 with the planting of 50 million trees a year.

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