Country Profiles

Haiti - Country Profile

Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

In spite of severe environmental degradation problems, Haiti has, together with the Dominican Republic, the second most diverse flora in the Caribbean. Floristic studies among the vascular plants invariably reveal new species, particularly in biologically rich areas. According to a floristic study conducted by the University of Florida in the 1980s and 1990s, an inventory of orchids in the Macaya National Park, in the Southern Peninsula, revealed that one-third of 134 species were not described at the time of their collection. The total orchid flora represent roughly 40% of the 350 orchid species known to exist on Hispaniola Island. Scientists who conducted inventories of Haiti’s flora did not reach a consensus on existing vascular plant species. The number of those published in the literature ranges from 4,685 to 5,242. The dated treatment of the Flore d’Haiti (1931) suggests that over 5,365 vascular plant species are found in Haiti. It has been estimated that, among these plants, 37% are endemic, comprising approximately 300 species of Rubiaceae, 300 species of Orchidaceae, 330 species of Asteraceae, 300 Graminae and three species of Conifers (Pinus occidentalis, Juniper juniperus, Juniperus ekmanii). Overall, the Haitian landscape hosts, according to the Holdridge classification based on climate factors, a total of nine zones which supports the diversity of forest formations. The country boasts a rich fauna as well, with more than 2000 species of vertebrates of which 75% are considered endemic. The mainland and satellite islands reflect a high degree of endemism. A biological inventory of Navassa island found more than 800 species, many of which may not exist anywhere else in the world, and as many as 250 that might be entirely new to science.

Ecosystem services in Haiti are numerous but badly quantified resulting in increased exploitation. Among the most important is coastal protection, provided by mangroves and coral reefs, which is of vital importance in an area prone to seasonal hurricanes. In addition, these same ecosystems are important spawning and sheltering sites for juvenile fish species which help to keep fish stocks healthy and provide a livelihood for fishermen. With more than half the population of Haiti working in the agricultural sector, other biological services, such as water and soil quality regulation, are of critical importance.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Some major factors and driving forces have contributed to biodiversity loss in Haiti. They include: poverty and population growth that negatively impact natural ecosystems and drive the erosion of biological diversity; introduction of alien species; habitat fragmentation due to increasing pressure from the agricultural sector and other human activities (such as urban development and transportation corridors); institutional issues characterized by the following (confusing roles among several institutions involved in biodiversity, lack of a strong commitment of the NGO community to conservation causes, political instability and fragility of the institutions, lack of well-trained human resources in biological sciences, conservation biology and protected area management, poor financial support for managing biodiversity, lack of political support to the Ministry of Environment, among other factors); policies that fail to integrate biodiversity concerns into non-environmental sectors (National Development Agenda), interagency conflicts and contradictory policies among them, regressive taxation, etc.).

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The Haitian Government initiated a GEF Biodiversity Protection Enabling Activity to prepare a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) and establish a Clearing House Mechanism with assistance from the World Bank. In order to meet obligations under the CBD, the Ministère de l’Environment (MDE) conducted a series of national and international consultations (thematic workshops on biodiversity, seminars, etc.), whose major objective was to capture views on main biodiversity issues and gain a clear sense of the measures for the sustainable management and conservation of the country’s biodiversity. However, the NBSAP was never completed due to the suspension of World Bank operations in the country as a result of the controversial elections of May 2000. The NBSAP profile that was prepared pleads for a vision that links the future of the Haitian nation with the way the local population plans to use the diversity of biological resources. This future, to become sustainable, needs to integrate a management approach that reconciles Haitian people with their environment and satisfies their present needs without compromising the well-being of future generations.

With a view to achieving sustainable biodiversity management, the country has identified five main priority axes covering a number of sectoral activities to deal with current issues:

• Conservation of biological diversity (ex situ, in situ, sustainable use of natural areas providing water resources and buffering natural risks and hazards and valorization of genetic resources).

• Education, identification and monitoring of biodiversity components: incorporate biodiversity issues in university curriculums and support their integration into environmental education manuals; develop promotional materials, biodiversity awareness through educational campaigns on the radio in order to ensure that the Haitian people are specifically aware of biodiversity conservation issues and clearly understand their role in conservation; complete or refine, through a step-by-step approach, local or national inventories on biodiversity to set up monitoring plans with clear objectives and indicators; establish a data collection system on biodiversity; publish a national report on the status of Haitian biodiversity; establish links with biodiversity networks.

• Sustainable use of components of biological biodiversity: develop and promote forestry with a focus on issues of conservation; support initiatives dedicated to developing ecotourism in Haiti; promote management and use of halieutic (fish) resources in a manner compatible with conservation issues; take appropriate steps to formulate a Sustainable Agriculture Plan for the country.

• Control of alien species and management of genetically modified organisms: address the threats posed by invasive alien species on Haitian biodiversity by promoting awareness on these threats, identifying Haitian needs and priorities in this field and developing policies and legislation; set up enabling activities to assess the status of biotechnology development in the country and create an adequate institutional framework for the management of biotechnology issues; ratify the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and formulate national legislation to regulate the local use of genetically modified organisms; facilitate the access to relevant foreign technologies that have potential to conserve and use biological resources in a sustainable way.

• Set up a new legal, regulatory and institutional framework to manage Haitian biodiversity: implement the new institutional framework, the Office National de Gestion des Aires Protégées consecrated by the National Environmental Action Plan; update the legal framework related to biodiversity issues, in particular laws on biodiversity, biosafety and access and benefit-sharing.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The Action Plan identified six programmes to be implemented with objectives, components, stakeholders involved, and sources of funding: conservation and management of biodiversity in coastal and marine ecosystems in the northeast, north, Artibonite departments and the satellite islands; biodiversity protection and sustainable development in the Nippes and Grande Anse regions; sustainable management of the main lakes and ponds and conservation of wetlands in the main Lite Islands of Haiti; sustainable valorization of Haitian biodiversity with a particular accent on the use of medicinal plants in Haiti, ecotourism and agrobiodiversity; extension and strengthening of national systems of protected areas in Haiti; and poverty alleviation through biodiversity conservation.

The percentage of effective protected areas is evaluated at no more than 0.3% of the overall surface of the country. In order to remediate this and achieve Aichi Biodiversity Target 11, the Ministry of Environment has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to complete the National System of Protected Areas. The finalization of the NBSAP is included among the areas of action prioritized by the MOU. The Haitian Government, through the Ministry of Environment, has also taken concrete steps to submit to the GEF a project to establish, with the Dominican Republic, an International Biosphere Reserve, including a Biological Corridor along the Mountains of Massif de la Selle and Sierra de Bahoruco for conservation and economic purposes. In the same vein, a GEF Project to establish a Marine Park in the northeast is also underway.

There is a broad consensus that Haiti would like to capture some of the benefits of the tourism trade in the Dominican Republic ($2 billion in revenues per year and 45,000 jobs created), however also avoid reliance on large-scale resort-based tourism. The Ministry of Tourism of Haiti has identified adventure tourism, ecological tourism, cultural tourism, and social tourism (living/working in rural communities) as priority areas for development. These activities are intended to offer an alternative tourism development model, one that incorporates conservation and sustainable development concepts into tourism from the beginning, and recognizes that sustainable development through tourism is possible only if the conservation and restoration of biological diversity are ensured, if local stakeholders are guaranteed participation and if benefits are equitably shared.

There have also been various types of institutional support given to some associations of traditional healers which uphold implementation of CBD Article 8(j).

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Legislation that is in place to support biodiversity-related issues comprises the General Law on the Environment (La Loi Cadre sur l’Environnement) and the General Law on Water which includes important articles on a National Fund for Water Management and measures to protect groundwater. In addition, efforts to develop legislation related to watersheds, Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), aquaculture and mariculture are being envisioned by competent authorities. The legal system will also integrate critical multilateral agreements for watersheds and coastal zones, such as Cartagena Convention (Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment in the Wider Caribbean Region) with its three Protocols, namely: The Protocol Concerning Cooperation in Combating Oil Spills, The Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) and The Protocol Concerning Land-based Sources of Marine Pollution.

To develop capacity within the Government, staff training initiatives for officials, decision-makers, professionals, managerial staff and community leads have been developed with accompanying information campaigns which seek to improve environmental awareness at the Government and stakeholder levels.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Currently, there are no mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation in place.