All CEP Technical Reports
CEP Technical Report No. 36 1996: Status of Protected
Area Systems in the Wider Caribbean Region
Area 27,750 sq. km.
Protected Areas (PAs)
|PAs with Marine or Coastal Zones||Extension|
|World Heritage Sites||0||0||0|
(1) Totals have been adjusted to avoid double counting areas that are classified in 2 or more categories.
Policy and Legislation
Haiti has had a turbulent political past. Since 1859 it has been a republic, although the country was under United States occupation from 1915 to 1934. A law of 3 February 1926, passed during the occupation, provided for the establishment of national forest reserves on public land by executive decree. Following a military coup in 1950, a law of 20 August 1955 was passed, which, in addition to regulating cutting, transport and sale of wood, provided for the establishment of protected zones (zones sous protection) and reserved zones (zones reservées) within the national forest estate. Further protection of forest resources was provided by Law No. 8 of the Rural Code (16 May 1962). The Rural Code of François Duvalier of 28 May 1962 strictly controlled forest resources and activities in forest reserves (Woods and Harris 1986).
A decree of 18 March 1968 declared as public domain certain areas considered to be national parks (parcs nationaux) and nature sites (sites naturels). Eight such sites were identified, all of which were small and of tourist or historic interest. A decree of 23 June 1983 provided for the continued protection of these eight sites as national nature parks (parcs nationaux naturels). The decree also provided for the creation of two, more extensive, sites (La Visite and Pic Macaya) for watershed conservation and the protection of endemic flora and fauna.
The major responsibilities of the national parks programme are also listed under the 1983 Decree, under additional responsibilities of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Rural Development (Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Ressources Naturelles et du Développement Rural) (Woods and Harris 1986).
Two pieces of legislation relate to the management of protected areas. A decree of 29 March 1979 appointed a self-governing body, the Institute for the Protection of the National Heritage (ISPAN), and an Order of 30 December 1987 defined the terms of reference of the forest rangers of the Haitian armed forces (Arrêté définissant les attributions des gardes forestiers des forces armées d'Haïti) (Anon. 1989).
A draft National Conservation Strategy (NCS) was drawn up in April 1987. Among the recommendations formulated were the following:
1) creation of an independent government agency responsible for conservation policies and programmes;
2) adequate conservation legislation;
3) preservation and protection of natural ecosystems;
4) protection of the endemic gene pool;
5) an increase in scientific research;
6) establishment of a conservation education programme;
7) integration of the national conservation strategy into the national development programme;
8) watershed protection;
9) increase of forest reserves; and
10) development of national parks.
Unfortunately, following the publication of the NCS the Planning Ministry was abolished and replaced by a Commissariat of Planning. Changes in personnel, priorities, and the physical location of the planning organisation stopped any further development or execution of the NCS, which, although incomplete, was a very positive step towards a functional and integrated conservation policy (Paryski et al 1989).
Conventions & Treaties
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 1992)
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOS, 1982)
Convention on Nature Protection and Wildlife Preservation in the Western Hemisphere (Western Hemisphere Convention, 1940)
Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage, 1972)
Programmes & Associations
Caribbean Conservation Association (CCA, 1967)
Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP, 1981) and its Specially Protected Areas & Wildlife Programme (SPAW, 1990)
Latin American Network for Technical Co-operation in National Parks, Protected Areas & Wildlife (LAN-NPPAW)
Administration and Legislation
The government organisation responsible for the protection of forests, watersheds, the environment, coastal resources and natural resources is the Division of Natural Resources (DRN) of the Ministry of Agriculture (Ministère de l'Agriculture, MARNDR) (Paryski et al 1989). Until recently the Division has restricted its conservation efforts to regulating hunting and fishing, to small hillside terracing projects, and to very limited reforestation projects. Serious conservation activities have been limited by low budgets, overlapping institutional responsibilities, a lack of trained and motivated personnel, the lack of an agency fully responsible for conservation, and changing and contradictory government priorities and policies (Paryski et al 1989).
In 1979 the Institute for the Protection of the National Heritage (Institut de Sauvegarde du Patrimoine National, ISPAN) was founded to protect Haiti's natural and cultural heritage, and to develop a national parks programme with the assistance of USAID. Responsibilities of the Institute include the inventory, classification, survey, protection, reclamation and development of sites (both natural and Man-made) and archaeological and historical monuments. Funding was obtained from the USAID mission for the establishment of two parks in the highest mountains in Haiti: La Visite and Pic Macaya (Paryski et al 1989). Included in this project was a biogeophysical survey of potential national park sites.
The results were presented as a series of reports to USAID in Haiti (Dod and Judd 1986, Franz and Cordier 1986, Gali & Schwartz 1986, Judd 1986, MacFadden 1986, Thompson 1986, Woods 1986, Woods and Ottenwalder 1986). Unfortunately, progress in making these parks functional has been slow. Some of the problems included:
a) the decree creating the parks failed to assign final responsibility for the administration of the parks to a single government agency. Resulting in confusion between MARNE and ISPAN as to which group has the primary responsibility for national parks;
b) lack of political will to address environmental problems and protect Haiti's natural heritage, which was partly caused by the country's continuing political instability;
c) the parks project was taken over from ISPAN by INHACA, a highly political organisation created and supervised by ex-President Jean-Claude Duvalier's wife (after the departure of the Duvaliers, ISPAN regained control of the parks project, and as of April 1988 was the governmental agency responsible for national parks);
d) deforestation of park sites was carried out not only by the peasants living in and around the parks, but by politically connected businessmen;
e) ISPAN and MARNE have neither adequate and sufficiently trained staff nor sufficient budgets to effectively develop and protect the parks;
f) in addition to already inadequate funding, the United States government had withdrawn all its USAID financial support of MARNE and ISPAN because of political irregularities surrounding the presidential election in Haiti;
g) and finally, a fire destroyed a significant part of the main MARNE building at Damien, with the loss of some important papers, maps, and documents that relate to the parks project (Paryski et al 1989).
In co-operation with ISPAN, DRN has drawn up lists of endangered species of plants and animals and of natural sites in need of protection. It is hoped that at least some of these sites can be made into national parks when adequate funding and personnel become available. USAID has developed a US$15 million project to assure the protection of the Massif de la Hotte watershed. The project also provides for the protection and appropriate agricultural development of the buffer zone surrounding the park by working with selected non-governmental organisations such as ORE and UNICOR. It is hoped that Macaya Park and surrounding areas will be managed as a biosphere reserve.
Aside from the interruption of international support, the most difficult aspect of establishing parks is the complex problem of displacing extremely poor peasants from park sites and limiting their activities in and around the parks. Parc Laviste and Parc Macaya are partially protected by park guards who are limited by a lack of legal and logistical support and a lack of adequate and appropriate training (Paryski, pers. comm., 1992). The creation of a corps of forest rangers, a specialised branch of the armed forces accountable to the Civil Defence, has been proposed but not yet established.
Since 1983 Florida State Museum has worked with USAID and ISPAN to complete inventories of the two national parks newly established in 1983, and to develop management plans for the areas. They have also made proposals for the development of the national park programme and its implementation. The results of this work are drawn together in the "Stewardship Plan" for Haiti's national parks. Included in this plan are proposals for the creation of a unified programme to administer all units of the national parks, to be known as "Parcs Haïti" (Woods and Harris 1986).
A University of Florida Extension project, in collaboration with the Haitian government, was still operating in 1992 to establish a biosphere reserve in Pic Macaya National Park (Paryski, pers. comm., 1992). The project had four main activities:
i) planning the management of the park and surrounding land as biosphere reserve;
ii) assisting the 1,750 inhabitants to increase agricultural production and their household income using ecologically appropriate means;
iii) rehabilitating critical zones;
iv) establishing a database on the history, management and fauna and flora of the region.
The project is unique in Haiti, integrating biodiversity conservation with economic and community development (Paryski, pers. comm., 1992).
The University of Florida project was subject to considerable constraints: the extreme difficulty of access to the work sites, the social and political disorders and strife, the degradation of rural infrastructures, the increasing decapitalization of the peasant population, the lack of adequate supplies of goods and services in rural areas, changes in policy and strategies, and finally the major economic and political difficulties that have resulted from the 30 September 1991 coup d'état and its consequences. However, the project did manage to protect the park, which has remained largely intact, and rehabilitate and reforest very critical areas while simultaneously raising the household incomes of the peasants living in the Macaya area. (Paryski, pers. comm., 1992).
The World Bank had designed a US$40million environmental project that would provide financial and technical assistance to MARNDR to establish a functioning environmental protection service which would manage both Parc Lavisite and Parc Macaya. This project agreement was scheduled to be signed in October 1991, but did not take place because of the coup d'etat; the project is currently suspended pending a resolution of the current political crisis (Paryski, pers. comm., 1992).
USAID and UNDP have jointly financed a study and pilot project for the creation of a marine park at the "Arcadins", a coral reef system to the north-west of Port-au-Prince. USAID has now suspended its assistance to the project (Paryski, pers. comm., 1992).
The UNDP has initiated a proactive environmental programme and a co-ordination committee for environmental and conservation programmes of the various multi-lateral and bi-lateral donor organisations (Paryski, pers. comm., 1992).
The general public is now aware of the disastrous consequences of continuing and progressive environmental degradation, but this consciousness has yet to be translated into positive action either by private groups or the government. A new conservation lobby group, called the Fédération des Amis de la Nature, has been formed and is planning to fight to reforest the country.
In general, management of protected areas has not been effective. Although over the past five decades successive governments have passed legislation to protect the environment, these laws have been neither observed nor enforced generally. This lack of enforcement, the continuing political instability in Haiti and the pressures on the environment caused by the overwhelming poverty of most of the population, have reduced the effectiveness of conservation activities (Paryski et al 1989).
Haiti comprises the western third of the island of Hispaniola on the northern edge of the Caribbean basin. It is a mountainous country; over 80% of the terrain has slopes in excess of 25, and a number of peaks are over 2,000 m. The topography is extremely rugged and dominated by three ranges that trend east-west. There is generally no shortage of water, but rivers have uneven flow (Paryski et al 1989).
Haiti is one of the most biologically significant countries of the West Indies. Hispaniola has an estimated 5,600 plant species, some of which are confined to Haiti. Approximately 36% are endemic to the island (Paryski et al 1989, SEA/DVS 1986). No reliable data exist on the extent of the original forest cover. However, the estimated forest cover in the country as a whole was down to 7% in the 1950s, much of it described as a mixture of degraded hardwoods and a few pines. By 1978 the amount of virgin forest cover had declined to 2.4%, and to 1.5% in 1989.
Forest exploitation began soon after Amerindians arrived on the island approximately 7,000 BC, but only accelerated in the 1700's following colonisation. Rapid population growth has lead to serious land abuse, with extensive clearing of woodland for farming, timber and firewood, such that the country is now almost completely deforested. Remaining vegetation is similar to that of the neighbouring Dominican Republic.
Only a few pines survive at higher altitudes and also small areas of mahogany, rosewood and cedar. The impact of charcoal production on mangrove areas has been particularly severe in places, and exploitation of wood resources is now increasing in the south-west (Paryski et al 1989). Coral reefs occur around the island, but are possibly the least well known in the Caribbean (UNEP/IUCN 1988).
Kurlansky (1988) estimated that one-third of the land is seriously eroded. It is one of the most environmentally degraded countries in the world, faces serious economic and social problems, and is classified by many as an environmental disaster area. Coastal zones are the only ecosystems that have remained relatively untouched, due to the decline in tourism, and include spectacular coral reefs, extensive mangrove wetlands and large estuaries (Paryski et al 1989, UNEP/IUCN 1988).
The protected areas system currently comprises ten national nature parks, which cover 9,795 ha or 0.35% of the country. Eight of these areas were established as national parks or "sites naturels" in 1968 and are comparatively small. In 1983 they were re-designated as national nature parks, while at the same time two, much larger, national nature parks were gazetted. The impetus to create these two large areas, situated in the remote and still forested areas of the highest mountains, came from an attempt to protect the fragile watershed. Coral reefs are not included in any of the national parks gazetted so far (UNEP/IUCN 1988).
Alarmed at the degradation of the natural environment a working group was established, the result of which was a report (Anon. 1988) stressing the urgent need for environmental action. The report includes recommendations concerning management of protected areas, such as the need for compensation to be paid to all people, both sedentary and nomadic, relocated outside these areas; and for all forms of exploitation of protected areas to be controlled.
The great biological potential of the mouth of the Rivière de l'Artibonite for the establishment of a reserve for manatee Trichechus manatus and birds is described by Rathbun et al (1985). However, they do not consider establishment of a wildlife reserve to be feasible due to the large number of fishermen.
Paryski et al (1989) propose several progressive measures to preserve the remaining biological diversity. Those that directly involve protected areas are:
1) establishment of communal forests;
2) strict enforcement of environmental and conservation;
3) establishment of rural environmental education programmes in areas near conservation zones.
They further proposed special conservation measures, including:
1) adoption of the IUCN World Conservation Strategy;
2) creation of an independent National Park Service with direct responsibility for the planning, creation and management of all national parks; and
3) management of all fragile areas, especially those surrounding national parks, as biosphere reserves. However, the authors recognise that attempts to improve the conservation situation will only succeed if efforts are coupled with improving the status of peasants living adjacent to the parks.
Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Ressources Naturelles et du Dévéloppement Rural, Département des Ressources Naturelles, Damien Département du Plan, Institut de Sauvegarde du Patrimoine National (ISPAN), Place du Champ de Mars, PORT-AU-PRINCE
University of Florida Macaya Biosphere Reserve Project, PO Box 1634 (USAID), PORT-AU-PRINCE
MinistPre de l'Environnement, 2 Pme, Avenue du Travail, No.8, Port-au-Prince Tel: 509-457572 Fax: 509-457360
Anon. (1988) Pour une déclaration officielle de l'état d'urgence face à la degradation de l'environnement national. Groupe de Travail pour le suivi du Colloque sur le reboisement tenu à Damien en avril 1987. Unpublished report. 20 pp.
Anon. (1989) Chapter XIII/4. Food and Agriculture Legislation 38:169.
Dod, D.D. and Judd, W.S. (1986) Orchids of the national parks of Haiti. Prepared for USAID. University of Florida, Gainsville. 5 pp.
Franz, R. and Cordier, D. (1986) Herpetofaunas of the national parks of Haiti. Prepared for USAID. University of Florida, Gainsville. 73 pp.
Gali, F. and Schwartz, A. (1986) Butterflies of the national parks of Haiti. Prepared for USAID. Miami Springs, Florida. 19 pp.
Judd, W.S. (1986) Botany of the national parks of Haiti. Prepared for USAID. University of Florida, Gainsville. 97 pp.
Kurlansky, M. (1988) Haiti's environment teeters on the edge.
International Wildlife 18(2):34-38.
MacFadden, B. (1986) Geology of the national parks of Haiti. Prepared for USAID. University of Florida, Gainsville. 35 pp.
Paryski, P., Woods, C.A. and Sergile, F. (1989) Conservation strategies and the preservation of biological diversity in Haiti. Biogeography of the West Indies p.855-p.878.
Rathburn, G.B., Woods, C.A. and Ottenwalder, J.A. (1985) The manatee in Haiti.
SEA/DVS (1990) La diversidad biológica en la República Dominicana: Reporte preparado por el Departamento de Vida Silvestre para el Servicio Alemán de Cooperación Social-Técnica y Fondo Mundial para la Naturaleza (WWF-US). Secretaría de Estado de Agricultura, SURENA/DVS, Santo Domingo, Republica Dominicana. 266 pp.
Thompson, F.G. (1986) Land molluscs of the national parks of Haiti. Prepared for USAID. University of Florida, Gainsville. 17 pp.
UNEP/IUCN (1988) Coral Reefs of the World. Volume 1: Atlantic and Eastern Pacific. UNEP Regional Seas Directories and Bibliographies. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK/UNEP, Nairobi, Kenya. 373 pp.
Woods, C.A. (1986) Mammals of the national parks of Haiti. Prepared for USAID. University of Florida, Gainsville. 73 pp.
Woods, C.A. and Harris, L. (1986) Stewardship plan for the national parks of Haiti. University of Florida, Gainesville. 263 pp.
Woods, C.A. and Ottenwalder, J.A. (1986) Birds of the national parks of Haiti. Prepared for USAID. University of Florida, Gainsville. 238 pp.
ANNEX I: LEGAL INSTRUMENTS
ANNEX II: HAITI PROTECTED AREAS LIST
|Name of area||IUCN & National Mgmt. Categories||Presence of Marine or Coastal Zones||Area
|La Citadelle, Sans Souci, Ramiers||V||NP||2,200||1968|
NP= National Park
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