Haiti’s deforestation is largely driven by small-scale farming and charcoal production, which involves harvesting wood and heating it to remove water and volatile compounds.
New findings indicate that, at current deforestation rates, all of Haiti’s primary forest will be gone within the next two decades, leading to the loss of most of the country’s endemic species.
The study was authored by researchers at Temple University, Oregon State University, the United States Forest Service, and Société Audubon Haiti, a non-profit conservation organization based in Haiti. Its results were published recently in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
By analyzing aerial photography and satellite images, researchers discovered that primary forest cover in Haiti shrank from 4.4 percent in 1988 to just 0.32 percent in 2016. They report that 42 of Haiti’s 50 largest mountains have lost all of their primary forests and the country is already undergoing a mass extinction of its wildlife due to habitat loss.
“Haiti’s recognized as having the highest proportion of threatened amphibians in the world,” says S. Blair Hedges, director of Temple University’s Center for Biodiversity and lead author of the study. “And that’s largely from the deforestation.”