Nothing better symbolized the vicious cycle of poverty
Haiti than the process of deforestation. Haiti was once a
tropical island, replete with pines and broad leaf trees;
however, by 1988 only about 2 percent of the country had
The most direct effect of deforestation was soil
turn, soil erosion lowered the productivity of the land,
droughts, and eventually led to desertification, all of
increased the pressure on the remaining land and trees.
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimated
this cycle destroyed 6,000 hectares of arable land a year
1980s. Analysts calculated that, at the rate of
prevailing in the late 1980s, the country's tree cover
completely depleted by 2008.
Deforestation accelerated after Hurricane Hazel downed
throughout the island in 1954. Beginning in about 1954,
concessionaires stepped up their logging operations, in
to Port-au-Prince's intensified demand for charcoal, thus
accelerating deforestation, which had already become a
because of environmentally unsound agricultural practices,
population growth, and increased competition over scarce
Most of Haiti's governments paid only lip service to
imperative of reforestation. As was the case in other
Haitian life, the main impetus to act came from abroad.
Agroforestry Outreach Program, Projč Pyebwa, was the
major reforestation program in the 1980s. Peasants planted
than 25 million trees under Projč Pyebwa, but as many as
trees were cut for each new tree planted. Later efforts to
Haiti's trees--and thus its ecosystem--focused on
reforestation programs, reducing waste in charcoal
introducing more wood-efficient stoves, and importing wood
AID's Food for Peace program.
Data as of December 1989