Evaluation of forest site potential in the Northwest Department of the Republic of Haiti

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

In August, 1976 a cooperative reforestation program between Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and the Haitian-American Community Help Organization was initiated in the Northwest Department of the Republic of Haiti. A network of forest tree nurseries was established in the Northwest to provide planting stock for soil conservation and reforestation projects in the region.

The long-term objectives are to integrate the programs with the existing agriculture system and also provide raw material for the active charcoal industry of the Northwest. In order to achieve these objectives, the nursery program utilizes a wide variety of native and exotic tree species.

During the initial phase of the program, selection of species, selection of suitable planting sites, and determination of necessary cultural techniques after planting were based upon subjective observations of the environment. Determination of potential productivity of the different tree species was also difficult due to the shortage of environmental information.

This study has brought together and supplemented environmental studies of the Northwest. The study area was divided into descriptive ecological units based on several parameters. The Holdridge ecological life zone model was used to make the initial classification of sites within the study area. Soil and vegetation surveys were used to verify, subdivide, and provide additional description of the life zones. Trial plantations were established in the various life zones to determine adaptability, quantify productivity, and monitor possible pathogenic problems of the different tree species.

The information provided in this study will help guide current land-use decisions and suggest goals for future research. The classification used in the study has also tied the Northwest to a world-wide system of classification. Consequently, the results of applied forestry and agricultural research in similar environments can now be related to development of Northwest Haiti.