EESC 230 Post #2 – Deforestation and Poverty in Haiti

This week while doing the readings, and while in class, I was most intrigued by the striking differences between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It was hard for me to wrap my head around how these two areas could be completely different even though they are on the same island. It just happens that Haiti got the shorter end of the stick and is situated on the side of the island that is more susceptible to erosion and less rainfall. A question that was raised to me while doing this reading was whether or not this problem could have been prevented if the roles of the countries were reversed or if France treated its colonies as well as Spain did during their time of reign over them.

An interesting fact I noticed while reading the chapter on the two countries in Diamond’s book was that 28% of the Dominican was still forested where as only 1% of Haiti still is (page 329, 2005). This almost complete deforestation in Haiti has had many negative impacts on the country including increased erosion that have led to numerous floods that cause poor living conditions for its citizens. These poor living situations and damaged environment has led to 80% of the country being impoverished with an average annual income of $500. The lack of education in the country, with only 52% of the nation being educated, has led to a 1.8% population growth and roughly 9 million people in total in the country.  I was very taken aback by these numbers, especially since this area used to be so prospering in regards to its trade with French. I did some research and found that although the nation has only 1% of its forests left, efforts are being made to make it back into the area it once was.

This article, written in March of 2013, states that the country aims to plant 50m of trees a year in order to tackle the poverty that is devastating the nation. This aim is said to double the amount of the nations forests by 2016. What interests me the most about this is the correlation between deforestation and poverty. I never really thought about one causing the other or that the two would be linked. Before taking this class I knew deforestation was a big problem in the world but I never really knew the specific problems it could cause, especially such detrimental poverty for an entire nation. The picture below shows the devastating effects the deforestation and subsequent erosion and flooding has had on the land in Haiti.

Erosion and flooding in Haiti due to deforestation.

Diamond, J. M. (2005). Collapse: how societies choose to fail or succeed. New York: Viking.


-Sarah Campbell

6 thoughts on “EESC 230 Post #2 – Deforestation and Poverty in Haiti

  1. Sarah C. says:

    I think it’s a really good idea for everyone in the Western Hemisphere to think about adopting a tree. Not only would it help the deforested area out, it would also get a lot of people involved with this issue, hopefully making it so it would be less likely to happen again. It would be a solution that could be essentially win/win.

  2. Dr. Szulczewski says:

    Since doubling from 1-2% is a start but not that great, I’m heartened to know they have more and more plans to plant trees. Everyone in the Western Hemisphere should think about sponsoring a tree!

  3. mtawes says:

    I agree with you, had never thought about the relationship between deforestation and poverty before. I guess if you think about it, it does make sense. Poor people need to make money and the easiest way is to cut down trees for fuel or even to just sell.

  4. dvanzant says:

    I agree Sarah, I never realized deforestation was so linked to poverty. I always sort of thought of them as two separate problems for a region with perhaps poverty being more commonplace in deforested areas coincidentally. It really makes you realize the importance of environmental conservation.

  5. emilypatnode says:

    Great post! I also found the correlation between deforestation and poverty to be very interesting. This class is definitely opening up my eyes to other aspects of environmental degradation that I knew nothing or very little about before. The article that you linked to is very interesting. I hope that Haiti will be able to meet their goal of doubling the amount of national forests by 2016!

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