Preface by Edward Rawson (Executive Director of Haiti Friends)
In December of 2014 I was shamelessly googling myself - Edward Rawson. Its not the worst thing to do from time to time just to see what is out there about you. In my searching I discovered a fascinating gentleman named Edward Rawson who was involved with an amazing organization called Global Solutions. Their mission: Citizens for Global Solutions: envisions a future in which nations work together to abolish war, protect our rights and freedoms, and solve the problems facing humanity that no nation can solve alone. This vision requires effective democratic global institutions that will apply the rule of law while respecting the diversity and autonomy of national and local communities.
I found that Mr. Rawson is unfortunately no longer with us, though from what I read about him I think I would have really enjoyed meeting him. I did reach out to Global Solutions because of an interesting series of articles on their website about Climate Change and various other environmental issues. After a few emails back and forth they recently published a little piece about the work we are doing in Haiti with HTRIP on their website. Go check them out......
This blog was authored by Edward Rawson, Executive Director of Haiti Friends (not to be confused with Ed Rawson, founding member of CGS).
By the turn of the 21st century, 98% of Haiti had been deforested due to logging for timber, slash-and-burn agriculture, and the great demand for cooking fuel. Most of the land’s rich topsoil has washed into the sea, where it chokes the reefs and marine life.
Haiti’s mountains have eroded to bedrock and its aquifers are drying up. The habitat loss for wildlife is staggering, with many native plants and animals on international registries of endangered species. The deforestation and the resulting desertification is Haiti’s single largest ecological problem, which has had a negative ripple effect on the overall ecology of Haiti and its surrounding waters.
In response, the Haiti Timber Re-Introduction Program(HTRIP) began in 2008 as a grassroots movement that applies a scientific and education-based approach to support communities in the mountain regions. HTRIP seeks to transform the mountains with three approaches:
- Building rock walls to lessen topsoil erosion while collecting soil and limiting flow down into the coastal alluvial plains.
- Building water basins to collect rain water to extend the rain season, establishing greater access to water for people, and providing irrigation during dry spells.
- Reintroducing trees to the mountainsides; some for timber, some for fruit, and some for ecologic reasons such as nitrogen fixation and addressing the relatively low ratio of organic material to lithic material In the soil due to desertification.
Because deforestation is a human-caused issue, HTRIP puts the power of change in the hands of the people.
HTRIP educators and technicians have worked with committees of farmers in more than 63 communities, providing education, technical assistance, and basic tools to convert currently unproductive farmer-owned land into productive fields through erosion control, contour trenches, composting, and planting indigenous trees. Farmers in the communities we serve have planted 1.6 million trees to date, and in July of this year, the communities will be planting the 2-millionth tree using our tried and tested approach.
In each new HTRIP community, committee members participate in monthly education sessions on agricultural techniques and soil management. Community member's neighbors help out by participating in communal work sessions to control erosion and prepare plots for planting. The farmers work to plant a variety of trees in each site, providing diversity through the mixture of trees, which provide timber, produce fruit, or support nitrogen-fixation. Food crops, such as millet, corn and several varieties of beans, are planted among the young trees. The introduction of animal husbandry and apiculture techniques completes the cycle in creating highly productive farms on once desolate land.
Each HTRIP community acquires technical skills, and the techniques of collaborative work and decision-making is encouraged. The leadership garnered means people are tied to making change and reducing environmental distress.