WARSAW, Poland — 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.
In the absence of other viable alternatives, cutting down trees became an feasible option that allowed struggling populations in Haiti to use trees to make charcoal to sell it and support their families, the Haitian Times says.
And Tim Morris, World Vision Australia’s Business Unit Manager, of Food and Security and Climate Change said that his organisation is examining the possibility of implementing the “Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration” (FMNR) project in Haiti.
The FMRN 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 disclosure that World Vision is considering implementing the FMNR programme in Haiti comes as the global climate talks, being held here from November 11 to 21 continues.
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 said 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 further said that Rinaudo met with World Vision officers in Haiti to evaluate the situation 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,” Morris said.
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.
He said 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 said.
The Haitian Times says 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.