Returning Trees, Jobs to Haiti’s Eroded Hills

first_imgBy Dialogo April 26, 2010 Edgar Griffin has lived on this hillside outside the town of Petit Guave for 80 years. He says when he was young, it was lush and green. So green, he says, “You couldn’t see a house across from you because it was so green.” Not anymore. Today the mountains are brown and barren. Farmers here try to grow peanuts, but the fertile topsoil washes away in the rain. “Now, when people plant peanuts, they don’t produce as much because the good soil goes into the ocean,” says engineer Roudy Valmy with the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM). Clearing land for farming remains the main cause of deforestation worldwide, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. But in Haiti, the loss of tree cover – and the soil erosion that results – has made it much harder for farmers to grow food, worsening the hunger and poverty already gripping the country. Ninety-eight percent of the country’s forests have been cut down, largely to make charcoal – the main cooking fuel in Haiti – where alternatives are unavailable or unaffordable. The same forces drive deforestation in many other developing countries. *Changing attitudes* But villager Emmano Nobert says attitudes here are changing. “In the past, the old people, they saw the trees, but they did not really know the meaning of a tree to the country,” he says. “Today, we, the youth, we are studying, and we know the meaning of a tree to our lives.” Nobert and his neighbors approached the IOM for help restoring these hills. The IOM has several projects in the area giving local people jobs restoring the environment. The IOM’s Francois Fournier put Nobert’s group to work digging short canals in the contours of the hillsides, to slow down the flow of rainwater and curb erosion. Fournier says, “In front of each contour canal we plant vetiver,” a grass with deep roots to hold the soil in place. “And in back of every row [of canals] we plant trees – over 20 varieties of trees.” *”Worth more alive”* Those include fruit-bearing trees like mango, cacao and coffee; and trees that make good building materials that the villagers can sell. “They’re worth more alive than they are as charcoal,” says David Delgado with the US Agency for International Development, which funds this project and others. Delgado notes that trees for charcoal are also planted in order to provide a renewable source of this important cooking fuel. *Results* The project near Petit Guave started just nine months ago, but the results are already plainly visible. From a nearby ridge, this hillside is noticeably greener than those next to it. The grass and trees help the soil retain more water, and Delgado says the villagers are starting to see benefits. On a recent visit, he says “They pointed down to the bottom of the ravine…and they said, ‘You see that tree that’s down there? That tree used to never be green this time of year. Since we put in these soil, water catchment programs, that tree has leaves on it.’ And more importantly, the water source at the bottom is flowing now year-round.” Longtime resident Edgar Griffin is hopeful about the change in attitude from the old generation to the new. “It was poverty that made them cut down the trees. Now, we can tell the difference in the soil.” *A tale of two hillsides* The trees need care in the first two years after planting to help them get established. The IOM does not pay villagers for this work. The IOM’s Francois Fournier says the volunteer work is intended to help the community feel ownership of the project. On a recent afternoon, Griffin’s community was out watering and weeding the young trees, singing while they worked in the hot sun. But other nearby communities do not share this enthusiasm. At a similar project nearby, villagers had stopped watering and weeding young trees months ago. The trees were much smaller and many had died. The hillside was much browner than Griffin’s. “It’s better than it was, for sure,” Fournier says. “But it was supposed to be two or three times better in the quantity of trees. I’m disappointed. What can I say?” Fournier says he will not be pursuing any more projects with this community. Experts say creating jobs replanting trees could make a significant difference across Haiti, where both deforestation and unemployment are rampant. In the wake of Haiti’s devastating earthquake and the country’s chronic hunger problems, the government and international donors are considering planting trees as a way to help workers, farmers and the environment all at the same time.last_img read more

One of the worst performances by the Hurricanes

first_imgIt was a hugely disappointing effort and result for Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd.Boyd said he realised after about three minutes of play game that his side had not turned up, which was disappointing because he they had been working towards the game for a long time.”In the period of time that I’ve been coaching here I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a game where we’ve prepared so well and delivered so little.””We’d been preparing to play the Bulls at altitude here since November 25th because we knew what we were faced with, basically we ran out of legs again at altitude very quickly and were unable to put our game together offensively or defensively.”The hosts provided an early-season fillip for new coach John Mitchell and for South African rugby with a bright performance against the rusty-looking Hurricanes, who trailed 16-12 at halftime.A 72nd-minute try to Bulls prop Pierre Schoeman proved the match-winner in a close affair, with both sides crossing three times.Earlier, it had appeared All Blacks playmaker and World Rugby Player of the Year Barrett would swing the momentum when he crossed moments after coming off the bench.Without any pre-season rugby under his belt, Barrett latched onto a TJ Perenara cross-kick to score with his first competitive touch of 2018 and put the visitors ahead 19-16.In the process he became the fourth player in Super Rugby history to score 1000 points.But Bulls five-eighth Handre Pollard charged down a chip from opposite Ihaia West to spark a sweeping move which resulted in Schoeman’s try.Pollard’s two penalties were important in putting his team in front in the first spell.They scored early through winger Johnny Kotze but the Hurricanes replied through hooker Ricky Riccitelli from a line-out drive and winger Wes Goosen from a chip and chase.The Bulls scored the try of the game from inside their own half soon before the break, when Springboks forward Lood de Jager galloped over after a bust and loping run from fellow-lock RG Snyman.That try came when the hosts were reduced to 14 men, with Schoeman shown a yellow card for a high shot.The Hurricanes’ fitness levels appeared to lag in the thin air, with their error count and concession of penalties problematic in the second spell.They were outpointed in areas they would normally expect to shade the youthful Bulls side, such as running metres and offloads, leaving room for improvement ahead of next week’s clash with the Jaguares in Buenos Aires.Prop Toby Smith and wing Wes Goosen are the main injury concerns for the Hurricanes.last_img read more