Only two percent of Haiti is still forested. Trying to turn the tide after decades of deforestation, the government has banned construction, fishing, and hunting in all coastal mangrove forests. Enforcement, however, is difficult. Caracol Bay, in northeastern Haiti, contains Haiti’s second largest mangrove forest and extensive coral reef and seagrass beds. The Haitian government recognizes it as an area of high ecological importance and has designated it as a Marine Managed Area, the Park National de Trois Baies. Local people, however, subsist primarily by fishing, producing salt, and cutting mangroves for firewood and charcoal production. These activities degrade the environment and reduce the quality of life.
FoProBiM is the only Haiti-based NGO dedicated to the protection and management of Haiti’s coastal and marine ecosystems. Seacology is granting it funds for environmental education and sustainable livelihood initiatives. Classes and field activities, aimed at community groups (especially of women) and schoolchildren, will encourage sound management of natural resources. They will also promote livelihood options such as beekeeping, mangrove nurseries, open-ocean mariculture, and ecotourism. A community park ranger program will train anyone wishing to participate, with a goal of identifying four new park rangers. The grant will also support mangrove reforestation and rehabilitation. Ultimately, 100,000 seedlings will be planted in areas with the greatest need and probability of success.