Driven by the need for fuel and lumber, deforestation is severe across Haiti. The loss of trees contributes to nutrient deficient soil, flooding, erosion and overall debilitation of the ecosystem. Few trees cover the slopes of Chermaitre, resulting in these problems being a harsh reality.
In 2008, the Vassar Haiti Project met with village leaders who proposed the establishment of a reforestation project in Chermaitre. The long-term goal of the Chermaitre Reforestation Initiative is to plant 100,000 trees to improve environmental conditions and wellbeing in Chermaitre.
5,000 fruit and lumber seedlings were planted in Chermaitre during 2011. Schoolchildren assisted in the planting, increasing their understanding of the importance of trees in ecosystem well-being. Some tree species which provide fruit will improve food security for families in Chermaitre. Fruit can also be sold at the local market for additional income. In the second phase of the project, VHP is now collaborating with the Smallholder Farmers Alliance and receiving funding from the American Forests organization for efforts focused on the planting of indigenous tree species. This will re-establish some of Haiti’s original biodiversity and ultimately lead to the improvement of the natural systems and decrease the prevalence of erosion, flooding and crop failure.