Why plant trees? Reforestation is necessary because of significant denudation of all plant life in most parts of Haiti. This causes erosion and there is little topsoil. To create soils, ramps (contour ditches) are cut into the hillsides. Stabilizing grass is planted on the lower side to hold the water collecting in the ramps and rapid growth forest trees are planted above. In just two or three years dead leaves collect in the ramps and a natural compost is formed, which allows for planting of gardens, fruit trees, and coffee.
What are the results? Roughly 13 million trees have been planted in the CODEP area, and currently between 600,000 to 1 million more are planted each year. Approximately 20 % are fruit trees (orange, lime, cherry, avocado, mango, grapefruit, coconut, coffee) and there are six varieties of forest trees (Eucalyptus, Acacia, Cashew, Haitian Oak, Caribbean pine, Bitterwood)
What is the process? Seeds are collected from within existing forests, nursed to germination in plastic bags packed with a soil/manure mixture, and watered for approximately six months until they are 40 cm – 50 cm high. Planting periods occur twice per year over a two to four week period. They are planted about 2 meters above the ditches and spaced about 2 – 4 meters apart. Forest trees grow to 5 – 7 meters in three years, providing enough shade for the shade tolerant fruit trees and coffee to be planted underneath.
What is the ultimate result? Over time, the forest trees are gradually crowded out by the growing fruit trees – some are harvested, others kept for later harvesting. In addition, the ditches fill in and the stabilizing grasses become part of the undergrowth, providing a natural fertilizer that is ploughed under when gardens are planted. This is a major step in the fulfillment of our vision of sustainability.