Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us


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

October 24 • 10:00 AM

Why DNA Is One of Humanity’s Greatest Inventions

How we’ve co-opted our genetic material to change our world.


October 24 • 8:00 AM

What Do Clowns Think of Clowns?

Three major players weigh in on the current state of the clown.


October 24 • 7:13 AM

There Is No Surge in Illegal Immigration

The overall rate of illegal immigration has actually decreased significantly in the last 10 years. The time is ripe for immigration reform.


October 24 • 6:15 AM

Politicians Really Aren’t Better Decision Makers

Politicians took part in a classic choice experiment but failed to do better than the rest of us.


October 24 • 5:00 AM

Why We Gossip: It’s Really All About Ourselves

New research from the Netherlands finds stories we hear about others help us determine how we’re doing.


October 24 • 2:00 AM

Congratulations, Your City Is Dying!

Don’t take population numbers at face value.


October 23 • 4:00 PM

Of Course Marijuana Addiction Exists

The polarized legalization debate leads to exaggerated claims and denials about pot’s potential harms. The truth lies somewhere in between.


October 23 • 2:00 PM

American Companies Are Getting Way Too Cozy With the National Security Agency

Newly released documents describe “contractual relationships” between the NSA and U.S. companies, as well as undercover operatives.


October 23 • 12:00 PM

The Man Who’s Quantifying New York City

Noah Davis talks to the proprietor of I Quant NY. His methodology: a little something called “addition.”


October 23 • 11:02 AM

Earliest High-Altitude Settlements Found in Peru

Discovery suggests humans adapted to high altitude faster than previously thought.


October 23 • 10:00 AM

The Psychology of Bribery and Corruption

An FBI agent offered up confidential information about a political operative’s enemy in exchange for cash—and they both got caught. What were they thinking?


October 23 • 8:00 AM

Ebola News Gives Me a Guilty Thrill. Am I Crazy?

What it means to feel a little excited about the prospect of a horrific event.


October 23 • 7:04 AM

Why Don’t Men Read Romance Novels?

A lot of men just don’t read fiction, and if they do, structural misogyny drives them away from the genre.


October 23 • 6:00 AM

Why Do Americans Pray?

It depends on how you ask.


October 23 • 4:00 AM

Musicians Are Better Multitaskers

New research from Canada finds trained musicians more efficiently switch from one mental task to another.


October 22 • 4:00 PM

The Last Thing the Women’s Movement Needs Is a Heroic Male Takeover

Is the United Nations’ #HeForShe campaign helping feminism?


October 22 • 2:00 PM

Turning Public Education Into Private Profits

Baker Mitchell is a politically connected North Carolina businessman who celebrates the power of the free market. Every year, millions of public education dollars flow through Mitchell’s chain of four non-profit charter schools to for-profit companies he controls.


October 22 • 12:00 PM

Will the End of a Tax Loophole Kill Off Irish Business and Force Google and Apple to Pay Up?

U.S. technology giants have constructed international offices in Dublin in order to take advantage of favorable tax policies that are now changing. But Ireland might have enough other draws to keep them there even when costs climb.


October 22 • 10:00 AM

Veterans in the Ivory Tower

Why there aren’t enough veterans at America’s top schools—and what some people are trying to do to change that.


October 22 • 8:00 AM

Our Language Prejudices Don’t Make No Sense

We should embrace the fact that there’s no single recipe for English. Making fun of people for replacing “ask” with “aks,” or for frequently using double negatives just makes you look like the unsophisticated one.


October 22 • 7:04 AM

My Politicians Are Better Looking Than Yours

A new study finds we judge the cover by the book—or at least the party.


October 22 • 6:00 AM

How We Form Our Routines

Whether it’s a morning cup of coffee or a glass of warm milk before bed, we all have our habitual processions. The way they become engrained, though, varies from person to person.


October 22 • 4:00 AM

For Preschoolers, Spite and Smarts Go Together

New research from Germany finds greater cognitive skills are associated with more spiteful behavior in children.


October 21 • 4:00 PM

Why the Number of Reported Sexual Offenses Is Skyrocketing at Occidental College

When you make it easier to report assault, people will come forward.


October 21 • 2:00 PM

Private Donors Are Supplying Spy Gear to Cops Across the Country Without Any Oversight

There’s little public scrutiny when private donors pay to give police controversial technology and weapons. Sometimes, companies are donors to the same foundations that purchase their products for police.


Follow us


Politicians Really Aren’t Better Decision Makers

Politicians took part in a classic choice experiment but failed to do better than the rest of us.

Earliest High-Altitude Settlements Found in Peru

Discovery suggests humans adapted to high altitude faster than previously thought.

My Politicians Are Better Looking Than Yours

A new study finds we judge the cover by the book—or at least the party.

That Cigarette Would Make a Great Water Filter

Clean out the ashtray, add some aluminum oxide, and you've (almost) got yourself a low-cost way to remove arsenic from drinking water.

Love and Hate in Israel and Palestine

Psychologists find that parties to a conflict think they're motivated by love while their enemies are motivated by hate.

The Big One

One company, Amazon, controls 67 percent of the e-book market in the United States—down from 90 percent five years ago. September/October 2014 new-big-one-5

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