Approach to Haiti Reforestation
I was a boy 8-10, I lived at the Forêt de Pin in Haiti, about 60 miles
My father was a forester and in charge of the forest operations for the
Société Haitiano-Americaine de Développement Agricole (SHADA) at the time.
This period was a hopeful time for Haiti/U.S. relations after a difficult
19 years of United States’ occupation of Haiti. The forest operations at
Pin mainly consisted of lumbering and building a sustainable forest of
which grew in that mountainous region.
became a forester in 1955 from the New York State College of Forestry,
specializing in photogrammetric engineering where I spent most of my
vocational career. Over the years, I followed Haiti’s ups and downs and
developed a desire to go back to make a difference with regards to
their tragic lack of trees across the country. In 2007 I made my first
of many trips and am continuing to do so as long as I can.
I decided to concentrate on teaching the children reforestation
and natural environment recovery. I started by joining a United
Methodist Mission Team going to Jeremie, Haiti. I met and worked with a
terrific interpreter, Mr. Bergemann Abiello. He and I went to schools
and orphanages giving the children a bit of Haitian history about how
the landscape was 60-70 years ago and teaching reforestation. I had my
mother’s scrapbook with about 250 black and white photos to show.
Hardly anyone I met, including adults, had ever seen such pictures of
their country. One person said, it should be in a museum and another
said it was worth $50,000 if I was ever kidnapped and needed ransom!
Anyway, the scrapbook gave me a bit of credibility and was interesting
to children and adults, alike. I have pictures of President Lescot, who
was president at the time, Les Holdridge who worked with my father (he
taught me how to play chess and started me into collecting postage
stamps), and many scenes you do not see (and some you still see) today.
After classroom teaching, we would take the children into the field and
have them plant seedlings and show how to do things in practice. I
would encourage them to think of going into further schooling in the
environmental sciences--forestry, or agriculture. For the last 3 years,
I have been going back to the same schools, contacting other
organizations, such as Trees For The Future, some folks in the Haitian
government in Haiti and within the Haitian Embassy in
DC. I have been trying to learn the various Haitian tree species by
obtaining the book Bwa Yo. I have visited and corresponded with Les
Whitmore of ISTF and he has been most helpful, by providing me with many
items related to
tree nurseries and ecological study maps for
He has helped point me in directions for other contacts and I am grateful
for his assistance.
have done this, I have learned many things and have further appreciated
the long time process with many disappointments involved in such an
undertaking. The recent earthquake near Port-Au-Prince is an example of
“two steps forward and three steps back” that seems to be the norm in
that poor country. I’ve always known and told the children that this
reforestation stuff is a 200-300 year deal, but they have to become
involved in it
Also, I’ve realized that short-term returns are needed as well as the
longer-term tree harvesting. As a result I’ve encouraged the agro-forestry
approach to most reforestation efforts, unless the terrain dictates
otherwise. Also, I’ve learned that it is one thing to teach reforestation,
but another to obtain the seedlings and keep records, etc.
have decided to try and develop an interest in establishing a small
tree seedling nursery at all the schools in Haiti. I know I will never
live long enough to see it happen, but I am convinced if it could begin
and expand over the years, the people would catch on and a kind of
“Haitian Arbor Day” could evolve. One encouraging thing happened last
year. In April, they had a Haitian Flag Day parade in Jeremie and the
school children had a procession carrying tree seedlings to plant. The
kids will take their land back with a bit of assistance, while the
adults in their families are trying to earn a living to survive.
Perhaps we in the ISTF can help this process by becoming directly
involved and/or encouraging others to do so.
Please contact me with your ideas.
218 Nimcock Road
Please, click on thumbnails to view photos: