Working to conserve the endangered Black-capped Petrel is a rewarding and multi-faceted effort. In 2012 we began by learning more about one of the Caribbean’s rarest seabirds using marine radar, which led to finding new petrel colonies throughout Hispaniola; most recently we’ve learned that these secretive birds nest right next to farmers living in Haiti at 6,000 ft., among the highest mountains in the Caribbean.
After mapping petrel colonies in Hispaniola and studying threats to this endangered species, it became clear that the main cause of the petrel’s population decline is habitat loss.
Poor farmers, working meagre soil at the highest elevations in the Caribbean, live each day on the brink of catastrophe. The struggle for enough water and adequate soil for growing crops is a daily challenge for farmers in Haiti. This past October, when Hurricane Matthew slammed into the village of Boukan Chat, Haiti, it left in its wake massive mudslides, widespread loss of livestock and the destruction of most fruit-bearing trees in the village. This type of storm can easily leave farmers, who need to support their families, with no choice but to go up into the surrounding forests to cut down the same trees that Black-capped Petrels require to survive.
EPIC, along with its partners, is now working with farmers and families in Boukan Chat to become more resilient to catastrophic events like Hurricane Matthew and to protect the resources they need to support themselves. We are working with Haitian farming groups to farm more sustainably, planting crops that are robust and have high yields. The farmers are learning the benefits of protecting the surrounding hillside forests and other techniques which prevent erosion and keep moisture in the soil.
Recently we addressed the local water shortage, due to several years of drought, by supporting the construction of three community water cisterns (see the video), assuring farmers and their families a stable water source even in the driest of seasons. These cisterns were funded 100% by supporters of EPIC and its partners. And just this past month, to address the monumental loss of fruit trees in Boukan Chat, EPIC and our partners again reached out to supporters to help fund a community greenhouse tree nursery. In just one week, our community stepped up and raised the entire amount required to complete the project!
As the Black-capped project leader, I want to say thank you to all who support our work in Haiti with the Black-capped Petrel. Your generosity provides an opportunity for farmers in Boukan Chat to farm more sustainably, support their families, and gives the Black-capped Petrel a fighting chance to come back from the brink of extinction.
|Environmental Protection in the Caribbean||