The history of Haiti's deforestation
The deforestation of the country started soon after the "discovery" by Columbus when Haiti's precious wood began to find their way to Europe. But in 1825, France demanded that reparations amounting to the equivalent of about $21 billion in today's dollars be paid by the newly formed Haitian nation for lost property due to their defeat on the battlefield. Haiti was forced to mortgage its development in order to find relief from a crippling embargo imposed by France, England and the United States.
That is when the deforestation of the
country began in earnest. Haiti’s trees were chopped down and shipped to France as part of the payment.
In 1954, the devastating Hurricane Hazel took down many of the trees. About that time, logging operations greatly increased to meet the demands of a growing population for charcoal. The cutting of wood for cooking fuel also contributed to the depletion of the forests and the loss of good land for agricultural purposes.
The Consequences of Deforestation
The deforestation of Haiti has resulted in severe deleterious consequences. Erosion has been one of the worst. Reportedly, some 15,000 acres of topsoil are washed away every year as a result of erosion. Dams, irrigation systems, roads, and coastal marine ecosystems are also greatly affected by erosion. The productivity of the land and the droughts which come as a result of erosion have resulted in a Haiti approaching total desertification.
Currently, tree cover of the land is estimated at only two percent.
This has lead to political instability, poverty, food scarcity, vulnerability to hurricanes, lack of development, poor infrastructure, deaths, and much, much more.
Deforestation is the central problem that Haiti faces because it impacts so many
aspects of the country. Reforestation of the land is therefore paramount to restoring the wealth and well being of the nation.