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


August 22 • 2:00 PM

What Can U.S. Health Care Learn From the Ebola Outbreak?

A conversation with Jeanine Thomas, patient advocate, active member of ProPublica’s Patient Harm Facebook Community, and founder and president of the MRSA Survivors Network.


August 22 • 1:22 PM

Two Executions and the Unity of Mourning

The recent deaths of Michael Brown and James Foley, while worlds apart, are both emblematic of the necessity for all of us to fight to uphold the sanctity of human dignity and its enduring story.


August 22 • 10:00 AM

Turbo Paul: Art Thief Turned Art Crime Ombudsman

There’s art theft, there’s law enforcement, and, somewhere in between, there’s Turbo Paul.


August 22 • 8:00 AM

When Climate Change Denial Refutes Itself

The world is warming—and record-cold winters are just another symptom.


August 22 • 6:17 AM

The Impossibility of the Night Shift

Many night workers get “shift-work sleep disorder.” And no one knows how to treat it.


August 22 • 6:00 AM

Long Live Short Novels

Christopher Beha’s Arts & Entertainments comes in at less than 300 pages long, which—along with a plot centered on a sex-tape scandal—makes it a uniquely efficient pleasure.


August 22 • 4:00 AM

Why ‘Nature Versus Nurture’ Often Doesn’t Matter

Sometimes it just doesn’t make any sense to try to separate the social and the biological.


August 21 • 4:00 PM

Julie Chen Explains Why She Underwent Westernizing Surgery

The CBS news anchor and television personality’s story proves that cosmetic surgeries aren’t always vanity projects, even if they’re usually portrayed that way.


August 21 • 2:37 PM

How the Brains of Risk-Taking Teens Work

There’s heightened functional connectivity between the brain’s emotion regulator and reason center, according to a recent neuroscience paper.


August 21 • 2:00 PM

Cracking Down on the Use of Restraints in Schools

Federal investigators found that children at two Virginia schools were being regularly pinned down or isolated and that their education was suffering as a result.


August 21 • 12:00 PM

What Makes You So Smart, School Principal?

Noah Davis talks to Evan Glazer about why kids aren’t getting smarter and what his school’s doing in order to change that.



August 21 • 10:00 AM

Why My Neighbors Still Use Dial-Up Internet

It’s not because they want to. It’s because they have no other choice.


August 21 • 8:15 AM

When Mothers Sing, Premature Babies Thrive

Moms willing to serenade pre-term infants help their babies—and themselves.


August 21 • 8:00 AM

To Fight the Obesity Epidemic Americans Will Have to First Recognize That They’re Obese

There is a void in the medical community’s understanding of how families see themselves and understand their weight.


August 21 • 6:33 AM

One Toxic Boss Can Poison the Whole Workplace

Office leaders who bully even just one member of their team harm everyone.


August 21 • 6:00 AM

The Fox News Effect

Whatever you think of its approach, Fox News has created a more conservative Congress and a more polarized electorate, according to a series of recent studies.


August 21 • 4:00 AM

Do Children Help Care for the Family Pet?

Or does mom do it all?


August 20 • 4:00 PM

Why Can’t Conservatives See the Benefits of Affordable Child Care?

Private programs might do a better job of watching our kids than state-run programs, but they’re not accessible to everyone.


August 20 • 2:00 PM

Oil and Gas Companies Are Illegally Using Diesel Fuel in Hundreds of Fracking Operations

An analysis by an environmental group finds hundreds of cases in which drillers used diesel fuel without obtaining permits and sometimes altered records disclosing they had done so.


August 20 • 12:00 PM

The Mystery of Britain’s Alien Big Cats

In a nation where the biggest carnivorous predator is a badger, why are there so many reported sightings of large cats?


August 20 • 10:00 AM

Death Row in Arizona: Where Human Experimentation Is the Rule, Not the Exception

Recent reports show that chemical roulette is the state’s M.O.


August 20 • 9:51 AM

Diversity Is in the Eye of the Beholder

Perception of group diversity depends on the race of the observer and the extent to which they worry about discrimination.


August 20 • 8:40 AM

Psychopathic or Just Antisocial? A Key Brain Difference Tells the Tale

Though psychopaths and antisocial people may seem similar, what occurs in their brains isn’t.


Follow us


The Impossibility of the Night Shift

Many night workers get “shift-work sleep disorder.” And no one knows how to treat it.

How the Brains of Risk-Taking Teens Work

There's heightened functional connectivity between the brain's emotion regulator and reason center, according to a recent neuroscience paper.

When Mothers Sing, Premature Babies Thrive

Moms willing to serenade pre-term infants help their babies—and themselves.

One Toxic Boss Can Poison the Whole Workplace

Office leaders who bully even just one member of their team harm everyone.

Diversity Is in the Eye of the Beholder

Perception of group diversity depends on the race of the observer and the extent to which they worry about discrimination.

The Big One

One in two full-time American fast-food workers' families are enrolled in public assistance programs, at a cost of $7 billion per year. July/August 2014 fast-food-big-one
Subscribe Now

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