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Haiti to plant millions of trees in effort to tackle deforestation, fight poverty


Deforestation is a major problem in Haiti (Image courtesy NASA)
Deforestation is a major problem in Haiti (Image courtesy NASA)

Kevan Karanjia, Staff Writer

March 29, 2013 — The once richly forested nation of Haiti has suffered from deforestation and failed attempts to repopulate forests in the past, but a new government effort is hoping to change that.

Forests around the world as a total percentage of land area (Image courtesy NASA)
Forests around the world as a total percentage of land area (Image courtesy NASA)

The Haitian government is on a mission to reforest the country after years of land clearance and tree felling.

Haiti aims to plant 50 million trees a year and double its forest cover by 2016. 

Currently the nation that neighbours the Dominican Republic has one of the lowest cover rates in the world - close to 2%. 

Government officials plan to have forest cover at 8-10% in 10 years - in 50 years they want that level to be at 29%. 

Haiti is severely deforested from years of land clearance for colonial plantations while recently many trees have been cut down for fuel. 

The Haitian government is not alone in planting trees, many NGO's are also undertaking smaller projects.

Haiti's bare land is prone to landslides during storms like hurricane noel (Image courtesy NASA)
Haiti's bare land is prone to landslides during storms like hurricane noel (Image courtesy NASA)

Deforestation and poverty are closely linked in Haiti.

The lack of trees has left bare land and caused degraded soil, hurting farmer output and creating water scarcity. 

The open land also magnifies the effect of natural disasters. 

Heavy rains and earthquakes cause landslides because there are no trees to stabilize the soil.

The global average of forest cover is 9%-12% - Suriname is the most forested nation as a percent of land area at 90%. 

Haiti's forestry initiative also includes an educational program to show people the alternatives to using wood as fuel. 

The country will also step up environmental surveillance to prevent illegal logging.   

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