Soil Erosion due to Deforestation in Haiti

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Deforestation is a massive issue in Haiti rooting back to the Colonial Period, where the mass deforestation was facilitated by the African slaves who were held captive. Haiti is an island nation in the Caribbean directly beside the Dominican Republic. Haiti has 11.4 million people, many of which are affected by the issues of deforestation and soil erosion. Soil erosion is a process in which the upper layer of the top soil is displaced. In Haiti, over 15,000 acres of topsoil is washed away yearly.

Image showing the difference between natural forest and deforested, eroded land.

This erosion in Haiti makes it impossible for some land to be used for agricultural purposes, directly affecting the farmers of Haiti. This issue roots back to 2 main groups of people; the Charcoal Industries and the Logging Industries. After the deforestation began in the colonial era, it was quickly sped up due to coffee production. Not long after that, just after the Haitian Revolution which ended in 1804, the people of Haiti were made to send timber to France all throughout the 19th century. Many more trees were also droned in Hurricane hazel which happened in 1954. In the same time period, charcoal demand increased. All of these factors caused Haiti to become the most deoforested country on earth.

Comparison of Haiti’s land before and after deforestation

Only 0.32% of Haiti’s original primary forest are still standing today. It is estimated that by 2035 that Haiti will have no original primary forest left. Since the issues of both deforestation and soil erosion directly affect dams, irrigation, roads, marine ecosystem, and worsens drought the Haitian government and other environmental bodies from around the world have been trying to fix both of the issues. Many species of reptiles, amphibians, and other vertebrates are also going extinct slowly due to these issues in the country. USAID has plans to plant 5 million trees in Haiti, and others are attempting to fix the soil problem. Alongside these fixes, the Haitian government is also establishing protected areas to maintain biodiversity. With 5.7% of Haiti’s trees being cut down annually, it will be a difficult issue to stop completely, but eventually we can bring Haiti back to it’s natural environmental state.

Image showing the transformation of eroded soil
  • Sources:
  • projects.ncsu.edu
  • wikepedia.org
  • csus.edu
  • psmag.com
  • blog.kulikulifoods.com
  • jswconline.org
  • news.fsu.edu
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  • agricultureandfoodsecurity.biomedcentral.com