Desertification in Haiti

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“You should have seen the top of these mountains 4 years ago. There were no trees, only few unwanted grasses. Now we can begin to see many changes in the landscape and the texture of the soil is less rocky. All of this because of HTRIP that helps us to produce more than 7,000 seedlings every year in our community tree nursery. HTRIP makes us believe in soil conservation and tree planting as the solution to many of our ecological problems”

— Charles Watson, HTRIP Leader in Drice, Verettes District

A Case Study of the Desertification of Haiti

by Johnson Williams

in Journal of Sustainable Development   ISSN 1913-9063 (Print)   ISSN 1913-9071 (Online)



One of the largest Caribbean nations, Haiti has 27,720 Square kilometers of land. Less that 20% of the land under cultivation is appropriate for agriculture. Once covered by forest, this country has been heavily logged and now mostly deforested. The majority of the arable land is being farmed beyond their carrying capacity. The total area under agriculture production is 6 times greater than the estimated areas suitable for agriculture resulting in significant deterioration of the land. Although the national governments as well as other governments have made several attempts to combat desertification, few initiatives have been successful.
This research will: (1) review desertification, (2) assess the current state of desertification in Haiti and on the island of Hispaniola, (3) review the impact of internal and external programs designed to reverse the effects of desertification, (4) compare the indicators of desertification that exist on the island of Hispaniola, and (5) discuss the consequences of desertification for Haiti as well as proactive strategies for reversing the negative effects.
References on Desertification
Ahmad, Y.J. and M. Kassas. (1987). Desertification: Financial Support for the Biosphere. West Hartford, Conn.: Kumarian Press.
Conway, Dr. J. Jickling, J. Haiti Agroforestry Outreach Project Extension, (1987-90). Pan American Development Foundation.
Desertification Tables and Charts for Haiti. Retrieved from Executive Summary Third National Report of the Republic of Haiti (2006), Retrieved from
Reining, P. (1978). Handbook on Desertification Indicators. Washington, D.C.: American Association for the Advancement of Science.
J.F. Reynolds and D.M. Stafford Smith. (2004). “Global Desertification’s, Do Humans cause Deserts?”, Environmental Science and Policy, Volume 7, Issue 2, April 2004, pp.118-199.
UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme). (1984). General Assessment of Progress in the Implementation of the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification, 1978-1984. GC-12/9.


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Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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