February was devoted primarily to finishing HTRIP's work from the first half of the dry season, and to preparing for the busier months of March and April. We began tree nurseries in our current communities, reached out to the new communities that will begin to work with us in the 2011-2012 year, and prepared for a visit from a group of agro-forestry experts.
Although HTRIP believes strongly in the importance of participating communities sustaining small, self-sufficient tree nurseries, we still do a great deal to both nurture these community efforts, and foster long-term sustainability from the very start. This year, we built hundreds of germinating trays, and bought and distributed 567 shovels, picks, hoes, digging bars, wheelbarrows, and other essential tools to our 41 participating communities. These tools were used for nursery and soil conservation work. We bought nearly 295,000 small seedling bags ourselves, and we hope that the additional bags that community members recycle will bring our total tree production this year to close to our goal of 400,000 trees. HTRIP's nursery specialist Gérard Alvarez was particularly busy in January and February; not only did he work overtime in HTRIP's central nursery in Deschapelles, but he also managed to visit more than half of our communities' local nurseries to lend a hand in places that have struggled in the past, teaching them more efficient cultivation techniques.
This month, HTRIP also began to reach out to new communities. Each year we select ten new communities (communities also select us!) on a rolling basis. In our final decision-making process, we consider the extent of deforestation, the community's interest in agro-forestry techniques, and cohesion and leadership within that community, but we also take socio-economic issues into account. This year we are making a special effort to focus on communities where reports compiled by Hôpital Albert Schweitzer show that cholera and malnutrition rates are highest. Diseases like cholera and tuberculosis are diseases of tropical poverty, and the central tenet of HTRIP's mission is to use environmental restoration to fight poverty in the mountains that HAS servers, so this is a natural step. We look forward to taking on more challenging communities this year.
As we begin the new month, we not only look forward to beginning a new year of konbit (or "community tilling/gardening") days to prepare the terrain for tree planting, but we are also eager for a special visit from masters students taking a course offered jointly by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and its School of Public Health. The course focuses on sustainable development in the post-disaster context of Haiti, and is spotlighting HAS's work (view course description here). There is a specialized agro-forestry group within the class that will be advising HTRIP on exciting new possibilities like shade-grown crops and the introduction of new tree species.
Thank you for supporting these endeavors!
The HTRIP Staff, including Starry Sprenkle and Dan Langfitt
About the Images:
TOP LEFT: HTRIP's Gérard Alvarez visited 26 communities in January and February.
BOTTOM RIGHT: HTRIP reaches to mountain communities where poverty is perhaps felt the most.