A common Earth Day activity around the world is tree planting — and for good reason: according to U.S. Forest Service, reforestation “represents unique opportunities to address emerging issues associated with climate change by conserving and managing genetic diversity to adapt to a changing climate.” Planting new trees and promoting biodiversity is particularly important in Haiti, a country that has faced significant deforestation over the last several centuries of colonization, natural disasters, and subsistence farming practices. This has disproportionately impacted rural farmers, who have to clear trees to grow food for their families, build wooden furniture, and sell charcoal for income; this further reduces the soil’s ability to grow nutritional crops, washes away topsoil in farm fields, and takes away fruit trees as food sources.
Dr. Jeff Losier knows the importance of restoring tropical forests in rural Haiti, and has spent the last decade launching several initiatives to get his community to plant trees. At the K – 8 school he helped build in the village of Moreau, education includes planting and maintaining five seedlings each school year. He also encourages students to grow at least three fruit trees per year — recognizing that for rural Haitian communities, trees are vital for both preventing soil erosion and creating new sustainable food sources. His non-profit, MIJABA, has been a valuable partner for Vetiera Fair Trade since our founding; his work with tree and vetiver planting has increased the variety of plants and trees growing in Moreau, while preventing soil erosion in the mountainous region and providing food and income from fruit-bearing trees.
We continue to work with Dr. Jeff, MIJABA, and the Farmers’ Association in Moreau to help encourage tree planting and maintenance, to promote the other key benefits of reforestation in Haiti:
- Preventing soil erosion and loss of farming topsoil.
- Retaining and filtering fresh water for the community.
- Restoring habitats for diverse animal, insect, and plant species.
- Improving air quality by removing pollutants and carbon dioxide.
- Growing nutritious food sources, like fruits and nuts, for the community.
- Introducing seeds and forest ecosystems, as the foundation for future natural tree growth.