Logging Leads to Devastating Floods and Erosion in Haiti

Flooding and erosion have become such massive problems in the area around Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince that they can wipe out shanties, cars, even whole neighborhoods. A number of human-caused factors contribute to the devastation, including poor irrigation and drainage practices, unregulated construction on hillsides, and, perhaps most of all, heavy logging. An estimated 98.5 percent of Haiti’s forest cover has been lost since European settlers landed on the island some 500 years ago, and many Haitians continue to chop down the few remaining trees and sell the wood to be made into charcoal. In a destitute nation with 70 percent unemployment, it’s hard to convince people to forgo the income they can derive from a felled tree. The Haitian Environmental Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development are working in the country to facilitate tree planting and help people switch to other fuels.