Monday, June 22, 2009

Reforesting the border

The border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic crosses some of the poorest and most environmentally sensitive areas of both countries. Despite rampant prejudice, Haitian and Dominican communities have interdependent economies, common environmental problems, and share elements of a growing border culture. Millions of Haitians cross illegally to seek opportunity in the more prosperous Dominican Republic, and relationships on both sides of the border are characterized by misunderstanding and often violence. One of Plant With Purpose's most exciting initiatives to date is its Trans Border Project on the Haitian/Dominican border. Through an integrated program of community development, innovative agriculture, reforestation, microcredit, and long-term discipleship, Plant With Purpose is holistically addressing the root causes of poverty and empowering these rural farmers to transform their lives and lands through viable, long-term solutions.

Check out this article recently reported by the Latin American Herald Tribune about the Dominican government’s plan to reforest along the border, and see why the work Plant With Purpose is already doing in the border region is so important.

Dominican Republic to Plant 5 Million Trees Along Border with Haiti

SANTO DOMINGO – The Dominican Republic plans to plant 5 million trees along the border with Haiti as part of a project to fight deforestation, environmental officials said.

The project, which will cost about 35 million pesos (some $972,200), will be carried out under an agreement signed by the Environment Ministry and the General Border Development Administration, or DGDF.

Pine, mahogany, mango, oak, tamarind and guayacan trees will be planted in the border region, the Environment Ministry said.

The agreement will be implemented via the Quisqueya Verde reforestation program in Montecristi, Dajabon and Santiago Rodriguez provinces in the northwestern part of the country, as well as in the southwestern provinces of Elias Piña, Bahoruco, Independencia and Pedernales.

Natural resources “are a national security” issue because “not just forests but also transborder waters” are at stake, Environment Minister Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal said.

“The production of charcoal is a threat to all of us, but when families join reforestation brigades you create green jobs, on the one hand, and reduce the pressure on resources, on the other,” Fernandez Mirabal said.

The Dominican Republic and Haiti share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, with Haiti in the western portion.

Heavy rains from tropical storms and hurricanes have caused mudslides, killing thousands of people in Haiti in recent years.

Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country, is prone to devastating mudslides and flooding because of man-made deforestation that has reduced the amount of the nation covered by forest from 25 percent some 50 years ago to just 2 percent today, while the neighboring Dominican Republic retains a lush tree canopy. EFE

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