UNDP helps Haiti and Dominican Republic reforest shared border

21 May 2012

image More than 400,000 seedlings and around 10 new species have been produced in the Haitian municipality of Dosmond. (Photo Dalia Al Achi/ UNDP Haiti )

Cap-Haïtien – In the Haiti-Dominican Republic border more than 300 hectares of land—equivalent to 740 football fields— have been reforested, one year after the launch of a UN Development Programme (UNDP) initiative with both countries.

Ministers of environment of the two neighbouring countries that share the Caribbean Island of Hispaniola and UNDP officials gathered recently in Cap Haitien, northern Haiti, to commend additional results, including the creation of 450 jobs and three community centres where plants are grown to usable sizes to help further reforest the two countries’ borders. Six hundred families have been benefitted in 12 rural communities in both countries.

Green Border—or Frontera Verde, in Spanish—is a four-year binational project is implemented by UNDP, the United Nations Environment Programme and World Food Programme to reduce high levels of natural disaster risk for local inhabitants along the border that runs through several rivers and watersheds.

“Together we can recover the vegetation, together we can reduce poverty and risks at the border”, said Victor Manuel Garcia Santana, Vice-Minister of Land and Waters of the Ministry of Environment of the Dominican Republic.

Centuries of man-made deforestation have reduced forest cover to about two percent in Haiti and 21 percent in the Dominican Republic. Haiti’s wildlife habitats have been destroyed or seriously damaged with 25 to 30 watersheds largely degraded or altered.

“The idea is to achieve socially equitable development at the border,” said the Haitian Minister of the Environment Joseph Ronald Toussaint.  “The reforestation activities function in this context as a form of compensation for ecosystem services, a form of social justice that helps rural inhabitants benefit from green jobs and to work for the welfare of their community and better management of natural resources of their country.”

The project focuses on reforestation, local training and campaign (education campaigns in schools, training partners, creation of tools for monitoring and control of deforestation, among other measures), the demonstration of sustainable alternatives, and the consolidation of bi-national cooperation.

Green Border has also sparked micro family businesses in the Haiti-Dominican Republic border. The project has been helping family owned cassava bakeries, which produce cakes and other baked goods made from the native cassava—or yucca—root using eco-friendly energy efficient practices.

The project also boosts the production of fruit and forest species (pine, cedar, pinus, citrus trees, cashew nuts, among others) in the Haitian municipality of Dosmond, where more than 400,000 seedlings and around 10 new species have been produced.

Green Border is primarily funded by the Norwegian government with around US$2.5 million in funding.