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Haiti - Environment : SOS to save the Pine Forest, the Parc la Visite and the Macaya Park
Two years after this first cry of alarm, the situation of biodiversity in Haiti is worsening in our two biosphere reserves listed as World Heritage by UNESCO. https://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-21247-haiti-environment-unesco-adds-new-biosphere-reserve-in-haiti.html and https://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-16923-haiti-environment-the-natural-reserve-of-la-hotte-selected-by-unesco.html
To get an idea of the current lamentable state of our forests of La Selle and La Hotte, ecological organizations in an open letter to the Government and the High Council of Transition (HCT) present an updated diagnosis carried out during the month of March 2023 of which we publish large extracts
Established over an area of 32,000 hectares in 1937, the Forêt des Pins, located in the south-east of Haiti in the Selle massif, has shrunk considerably (approximately 12,000 hectares in 2019, source Écovert-Haiti https://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-35184-haiti-environment-ecovert-haiti-condemns-the-inaction-and-irresponsibility-of-the-government.html ) because of massive deforestation and recurrent fires.
It constitutes a vast tropical forest of conifers and supplies many cities in the country with its diversity in species of plants and animals. But for years, due to the presence of a public market inside the Forest (Unit 1 especially), the expansion of constructions and the acceleration of deforestation practices for agriculture, coal wood and also furniture to meet family needs reduce the area of this forest reserve and considerably reduce biodiversity, water resources and expose all the surrounding regions to natural disasters.
It should be noted that the degradation of this forest reserve has increased since the beginning of 2023 where fires are multiplying everywhere, especially at the level and hundreds of hectares are already ravaged by fire https://www.icihaiti.com/en/news-39030-icihaiti-pine-forestmore-than-150-hectares-destroyed-by-fire-in-8-days.html
National Park The Visit:
Located in the Massif de la Selle, La Visite National Park, declared a protected area in April 1983, is one of the most important natural sites in the country. The fauna of this forest reserve has a high percentage of endemicity such as the Hispaniola Crossbill, Golden Swallows, Haitian Tanager, Damoison Trogon, Piping Solitaire and Narrow-billed Tody which are today threatened by the continued degradation of their natural habitats. For years, this park has been in the hands of hundreds of individuals who exploit it for agricultural and commercial purposes due to the lack of environmental monitoring measures. This park is constantly subject to fires and cutting of trees for construction purposes which considerably reduce its forested area which has fallen from 2,000 hectares in 1976 to approximately 500 hectares today.
Macaya National Park:
Located in the Massif de La Hotte, Macaya National Park was declared a National Reserve Forest in 1983 and a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2016.
Considered the largest Natural Park in the Caribbean, the buffer area of this protected area is 81,420 hectares while Pic Macaya is the highest peak in Haiti with (2,734m) 2nd highest peak on the island after the Duarte Peak located in the José del Carmen Ramírez National Park in the Dominican Republic (3,098m), the highest peak in the Caribbean.
This national park is home to a biological diversity of paramount importance. It is considered one of the birding areas in Haiti by the Ornithological Society of Hispaniola, it contains a very diverse and largely endemic bird fauna with more than 65 species of birds such as the four-eyed tanager , the Haitian Tanager and the Hispaniola Crossbill and the Devil Petrel that nest in the cliffs.
This Park is also home to over 54 species of amphibians and reptiles, over 367 varieties of flowering plants, over 99 species of mosses, over 103 varieties of ferns, and 150 species of orchids, various varieties of fungi and several species of terrestrial mammals endemic to the Island.
In addition, the Park is the water tower of the departments of the South and Grand'Anse. The English, Port-à-Piment, Acul, Torbeck, La Ravine du Sud, Guinaudée, Voldrogue, Grand'Anse and Roseaux rivers have their source here.
For years, with its potential in natural resources or its abundance in flora and fauna, this park has always been left to its own devices and since February 2023, this reserve has been under fires which could have many direct drastic consequences on the fauna. and the flora of the country, and of the Caribbean region.
Despite the various calls made in the media, the signatories of this open letter: the Ecovert-Haiti Organization, the Federation of Organizations for Community Development of the Visit (FADECOV), PROMODEV, MAP, Antoine Simon Foundation of Les Cayes, Konbit Ekolojis Sid (KES), Association of Young People United for the Development of the Central Plateau (AJRDPC), Young Fighters United for Change towards a Sustainable Society in Haiti (JECORECS-DH), the inhabitants and local authorities (CASEC, ASEC, ) of the areas where these protected areas are located, the Ministry of the Environment, responsible for leading the country's environmental governance, remains deaf and has probably failed in its mission.
These organizations point out that "what remains of the Haitian State does not intervene to restore order within protected areas and forests, in particular with a view to intervening quickly to extinguish fires, support local officials and enforce environmental legislation against those who commit violations."
Finally, they deplore that the efforts that have been made previously to counter the degradation of the environment in Haiti “have all been undermined by the Ministry of the Environment. For example: Germplasm Centers have become dysfunctional and seedlings, energy and money are wasted. Partnerships signed with environmental organizations to strengthen the national environmental management system are on hold and in pause mode within the Ministry of Environment."
Faced with multiple recurring problems faced by the country's environmental sector, in particular the two biosphere reserves in Haiti, it is recommended that the authorities and members of the High Council of Transition (HCT) take the following measures:
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