what makes us tick

Tree Nursery Update

EarthSpark International is entering into the final stage of approval for a sponsorship from the Quick Impact Project program of the UN’s stabilization mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH. This grant will be used to start-up a tree nursery business owned by our implementing partner, a local farmers’ NGO.

We view tree nurseries as a crucial tool in the fight against the ravages of energy poverty. In Haiti, unrelenting environmental crises have become the norm because of extreme and devastating deforestation. Egregious colonial exploitation and work management by rapacious governments in the past have resulted in the depletion of Haiti’s forest cover to just one percent of what once existed. Currently, unsustainable agricultural practices and reliance on wood and charcoal for cooking fuel continue the onslaught. Not only is forest loss undermining livelihoods, it underlies soil erosion, flooding, landslides and other disasters that intensify the dire poverty of the Haitian people.

The tree nursery will help to increase local capacity for commercial and non-commercial tree planting and change the way people think about their relationship with the environment. The thrust of EarthSpark’s projects is the general well-being of rural people rather than environmental protection, although environmental benefits are both a by-product and a means to this end. It is our conviction that environmental projects will only be sustained if they directly or indirectly provide short-term incentives to local populations. In this way, we create a positive feedback cycle of activities in which community members become stakeholders in the improvement of their environment as it affects their lives.

We expect farmers in Coteaux to plant 40,000 forest and fruit trees in Spring, 2010 through sales to individual farmers and our secondary-school reforestation campaign. Given the expertise and solidarity of our partners, we expect this project to flourish. We anticipate that the increased plant coverage will result in fewer and less severe floods within in town of Côteaux within five years. It will also provide a block against wind erosion, increased shade, a greener living space and improved crop yields due to ground water retention. As a long-term outcome, positive attitudes among youth towards the environment will be improved and powerful knowledge of agroforestry and environmental management will spread from the University to rural community members.