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CARIBBEAN - conservation

Deforestation in Haiti



Permission to use information from www.ourplantet.com

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, with four out of five of its people living in abject poverty. One reason is that its forests have been cut down, and not replanted, and so its soil has eroded away. Forests used to cover over nine tenths of Haiti: now only 1-2 per cent remains densely forested.

Haiti photograph by NASA About 85 per cent of the country is mountainous and the soil hard to hold in place once the trees are gone. The heavy daily rains of the five-month-long wet season form brown muddy torrents that carry massive amounts of topsoil out to sea. Many slopes have been losing over 3 centimetres of topsoil a year for decades, leaving near-barren bedrock or poor soil behind. The people find it hard to grow crops.

Deforestation in Haiti (above, left part of picture, contrasted with its neighbour the Dominican Republic) leads to serious soil erosion

Haiti photograph by NICHOLAS HINZThe erosion also wreaks havoc downstream. Sediment fills streams, rivers and lakes, decimating fish stocks, and clogging irrigation systems in the productive coastal plains. It pours into the ocean, damaging marine life and the Haitian fishing industry. And the water runs much faster off the bare slopes into the sediment-filled rivers and streams causing ever-worsening floods.

(Above right, showing the original soil line). As a result there is no topsoil for the people to grow crops to feed themselves (below).

Haiti photograph by NICHOLAS HINZThere is some hope. Projects with solar-powered ovens reduce the need to cut trees for fuel. Some reforestation projects are under way. Crops better suited for poorer soils are being introduced. People are being taught to understand how deforestation leads to environmental and economic hardships. But all these will need to take hold and spread like wild fire if major changes are
to take place.

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Information compliments of www.ourplantet.com



 

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