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I thought you would be interested in this article from environment: YALE magazine, the Journal of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.
By Marc Wortman
In an impoverished land like Haiti, people view trees as a cheap source of cooking fuel and building materials. Trees also cover farming land or block other commerce. As a result, over the past 60 or so years Haitians have consumed virtually every tree in the countryside, leaving a fast-eroding rock garden that can’t produce enough food for its own people. Sparked by urgent calls to rebuild the country following January’s earthquake, a group of leaders in the effort to restore Haiti’s blighted rural landscape came together at F&ES for two days in May to explore ways to delink the cycle of poverty from environmental degradation.
Until the middle of last century, lush forests covered much of Haiti’s rural landscape. With the forests now gone from all but about 3 percent of the mountainous countryside, tree crops like mangos and cacao have also virtually disappeared. With little to hold back the water, more frequent and more intense tropical storms in recent years have made natural disasters endemic within the watersheds where most farming occurs, notably floods which have killed thousands of people and wiped out harvests, most recently in 2004 and 2008. To sustain a malnourished population, aid programs often supplement Haiti’s food supplies, sometimes undercutting efforts to encourage sustainable farming practices. Extended droughts have added pressure on farmers to plant food crops on every available bit of arable…
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