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Haiti's Ecological-Economic Destruction of Deforestation

The over-farming of the plains merely exhausted the soil, deforestation of the Haitian mountains created a worse problem: the country now has a serious water shortage (Linden, "The Last Drops" 59).

We were always in combat with the water. There is plenty of land in Haiti, but our basins are dry. The plants can't push through the dry earth.

Celeste, Haitian farmer (Maternowska n.p.)

The concept of a water shortage sounds absurd in a tropical country such as Haiti. Nevertheless, the problem is very real and involves a cyclical interplay of cause-effect-cause relationships. The forests play a crucial role in maintaining the delicate balance among natural systems that affect water supply. Ignorance of the important role biodiversity plays can be devastating (Langreth 80). Vegetation traps water, reducing runoff and replenishing groundwater supplies. Tree cutting leads to floods, mud slides and soil erosion during rainy seasons - followed by acute water shortages during dry periods. Deforestation sets in motion forces that reduce the amount of rainfall in a given area. In the past, on Caribbean islands such as Haiti, as much as half the moisture settled on trees and quickly evaporated into the sky, only to precipitate again in a continuous cycle. When the trees were cut en masse, rainfall quickly diminished. Worse, when the rains do come, it runs off - without tree roots breaking up the soil and making it porous, water does not soak in (Linden, "The Last Drops" 60).

Noted earlier in this paper, the political arena is inextricably implicated in Haiti's economic-ecological dilemma. Since attaining independence in 1804, the country has never had a restructuring of society along post-colonial lines, nor has it enjoyed any sort of political stability. Political leaders changed from coup to coup; the United States occupied Haiti from 1915 through 1934; more coups followed and then, in 1957, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalie...

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Haiti's Ecological-Economic Destruction of Deforestation. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:37, September 20, 2017, from
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