Menus Subscribe Search

Tree by Tree: Reforesting Haiti

• January 27, 2010 • 4:15 PM

Reforesting efforts in Haiti may not provide immediate relief, but could create a renewable and sustainable supply of food and fuel for desperate villages.

The Marines, the Red Cross and countless other charity organizations are getting their boots on the ground to offer tangible, immediate aid to quake-stricken Haitians. Relief may come as simple as a dry biscuit and water delivered by the U.N. World Food Program or as complicated as surgery performed by Doctors Without Borders.

Amid the tremendous effort to stave off hunger and slowly repair the tattered nation, another nonprofit, Trees for the Future, is continuing to do what it has done in the country for eight years: plant trees that produce much-needed fuel and food for rural villages.

The organization, founded by Grace and Dave Deppner in 1989, has offered rural populations worldwide the opportunity to receive training in sustainable farming and provided the seeds and assistance to reforest these areas. In outposts ranging from Burkina Faso, the Philippines, Honduras and others, the nonprofit has earned its name (and a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, the highest available) by assisting in reintroducing precious — and often depleted — resources to villages.

“People in these villages are motivated,” explained African and Caribbean program officer Ethan Budiansky. “They understand they need to plant trees, but they don’t have the resources. They don’t have a wheelbarrow, shovel or training to do it.” The organization provides the materials and agroforestry training to enable farmers to build sustainable food crops and fuel resources.

Prior to the earthquake in Haiti, the nonprofit had worked with 13 villages north of Port-au-Prince in 2009 to provide nurseries that harvested relatively fast-growing multipurpose trees (for fuel) and mango, avocado, citrus and guava fruit trees, among others.

The help couldn’t have come at a better time: Over decades, Haitian forests have been decimated by a population desperate for food and fuel, depleting resources and creating a stark border between the country and its neighbor, the Dominican Republic. Last year, Trees for the Future helped plant more than 1 million trees on this battered landscape — a number they plan to top this year. “We’re aiming to plant 1.2 million trees and assist 15 communities in 2010,” said Budiansky.

After being rocked by the 7.0 earthquake, the resource center in Leveque, a small town north of Port-au-Prince, has been acting as a middleman between the villages and the eager charity groups looking to give immediate supplies. A small, full-time staff of four delivers “needs assessment” for villages that contact the outreach center, helping and advising in any way they can before planning a potential tree-nursery project.

The greatest need at present is for food. Beans, yams, eggplant and peppers are being disseminated — the types of crops that can provide some relatively immediate, and hopefully sustainable, relief.

“Especially now after the earthquake, we’ve been providing resources and training to grow food crops,” said Budiansky. “[The goal] is for an individual to farm that same piece of land and benefit from it.”

Sign up for our free e-newsletter.

Are you on Facebook? Become our fan.

Follow us on Twitter.

Add our news to your site.

Erik Hayden
Former Miller-McCune Fellow Erik Hayden recently graduated from Pepperdine University with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Religion. He regularly contributes for a variety of publications including the Ventura County Star and the alt-weekly, VCReporter.

More From Erik Hayden

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Recent Posts

September 19 • 4:00 PM

In Your Own Words: What It’s Like to Get Sued Over Past Debts

Some describe their surprise when they were sued after falling behind on medical and credit card bills.



September 19 • 1:26 PM

For Charitable Products, Sex Doesn’t Sell

Sexy women may turn heads, but for pro-social and charitable products, they won’t change minds.


September 19 • 12:00 PM

Carbon Taxes Really Do Work

A new study shows that taxing carbon dioxide emissions could actually work to reduce greenhouse gases without any negative effects on employment and revenues.


September 19 • 10:00 AM

Why the Poor Remain Poor

A follow-up to “How Being Poor Makes You Poor.”


September 19 • 9:03 AM

Why Science Won’t Defeat Ebola

While science will certainly help, winning the battle against Ebola is a social challenge.


September 19 • 8:00 AM

Burrito Treason in the Lone Star State

Did Meatless Mondays bring down Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples?


September 19 • 7:31 AM

Savor Good Times, Get Through the Bad Ones—With Categories

Ticking off a category of things to do can feel like progress or a fun time coming to an end.


September 19 • 6:00 AM

The Most Untouchable Man in Sports

How the head of the governing body for the world’s most popular sport freely wields his wildly incompetent power.


September 19 • 4:00 AM

The Danger of Dining With an Overweight Companion

There’s a good chance you’ll eat more unhealthy food.



September 18 • 4:00 PM

Racial Disparity in Imprisonment Inspires White People to Be Even More Tough on Crime

White Americans are more comfortable with punitive and harsh policing and sentencing when they imagine that the people being policed and put in prison are black.



September 18 • 2:00 PM

The Wages of Millions Are Being Seized to Pay Past Debts

A new study provides the first-ever tally of how many employees lose up to a quarter of their paychecks over debts like unpaid credit card or medical bills and student loans.


September 18 • 12:00 PM

When Counterfeit and Contaminated Drugs Are Deadly

The cost and the crackdown, worldwide.


September 18 • 10:00 AM

How Do You Make a Living, Molly Crabapple?

Noah Davis talks to Molly Crapabble about Michelangelo, the Medicis, and the tension between making art and making money.


September 18 • 9:00 AM

Um, Why Are These Professors Creeping on My Facebook Page?

The ethics of student-teacher “intimacy”—on campus and on social media.


September 18 • 8:00 AM

Welcome to the Economy Economy

With the recent introduction of Apple Pay, the Silicon Valley giant is promising to remake how we interact with money. Could iCoin be next?



September 18 • 6:09 AM

How to Build a Better Election

Elimination-style voting is harder to fiddle with than majority rule.


September 18 • 6:00 AM

Homeless on Purpose

The latest entry in a series of interviews about subculture in America.


September 18 • 4:00 AM

Why Original Artworks Move Us More Than Reproductions

Researchers present evidence that hand-created artworks convey an almost magical sense of the artist’s essence.


September 17 • 4:00 PM

Why Gun Control Groups Have Moved Away From an Assault Weapons Ban

A decade after the ban expired, gun control groups say that focusing on other policies will save more American lives.


September 17 • 2:00 PM

Can You Make Two People Like Each Other Just By Telling Them That They Should?

OKCupid manipulates user data in an attempt to find out.


September 17 • 12:00 PM

Understanding ISIL Messaging Through Behavioral Science

By generating propaganda that taps into individuals’ emotional and cognitive states, ISIL is better able motivate people to join their jihad.


Follow us


For Charitable Products, Sex Doesn’t Sell

Sexy women may turn heads, but for pro-social and charitable products, they won't change minds.

Carbon Taxes Really Do Work

A new study shows that taxing carbon dioxide emissions could actually work to reduce greenhouse gases without any negative effects on employment and revenues.

Savor Good Times, Get Through the Bad Ones—With Categories

Ticking off a category of things to do can feel like progress or a fun time coming to an end.

How to Build a Better Election

Elimination-style voting is harder to fiddle with than majority rule.

Do Conspiracy Theorists Feed on Unsuspecting Internet Trolls?

Not literally, but debunkers and satirists do fuel conspiracy theorists' appetites.

The Big One

One in three drivers in Brooklyn's Park Slope—at certain times of day—is just looking for parking. The same goes for drivers in Manhattan's SoHo. September/October 2014 new-big-one-3

Copyright © 2014 by Pacific Standard and The Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. All Rights Reserved.