Biodiversity conservation, local economic development and disaster risk reduction in Haiti

Forest cover on the mountain ranges in Southern Haiti is below 5% - despite its crucial importance for local farmers and as environmental protection for downhill infrastructures and towns. Municipalities, farmer organisation and national institutions are supported to sustainably manage a forest ecosystem in order to improve local livelihood and mitigate disaster risks.
In Haiti, forest cover is rare, due to several socio-economic and political reasons which have led to land degradation; currently, the Haitian government is looking for substitute management systems in order to restore forest ecosystems, providing at the same time favourable contexts for economic local development. In the south-eastern region, in the so-called “Forêt des Pins” region, together with HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation and SDC, the Ministries of Environment and of Agriculture implement a programme linking forest conservation and restoration in a protected area, with agriculture diversification and intensification in the buffer zones.

The programme is highly successful thanks to its trans-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder approach: Scientific investigations of the forest ecosystem, coupled with recognition of local knowledge, have been the basis for a participatory management plan, including non-timber forest products valuation; around the protected forest area, households were supported in their local organisation in order to facilitate the improvement of their agricultural production, the processing of their products and its commercialisation. In parallel, systematic gully control and watershed protection have been executed, through biological and physical measures. All these activities have been supervised and coordinated by the local authorities, who have been strengthened in their normative functions as responsibles for running municipalities.

With improved awareness of the ecological services of the forest and the increase of income from legal activities, forest degradation has been stopped in Forêt des Pins and the protected and cultivated ecosystems are in the process to be restored. This leads also to increased environmental, institutional and economic resilience for the whole region.

This is a project mandate implemented on behalf of SDC.