EARTH SANGHA | TREE BANK HISPANIOLA: FOREST RESTORATION AS RURAL DEVELOPMENT
Earth Sangha's Tree Bank Hispaniola is a partnership with a group of small-holder farmers who live along a section of the Dominican Republic – Haiti border. We work with Tree Bank farmers to improve their incomes and to conserve and restore the region’s native forest.
The project is based in the mountain community of Los Cerezos, on the Dominican side of the border. The remaining forests of Hispaniola’s rugged interior, virtually all of which lie on the Dominican side of the border, are among the most important surviving remnants of the Caribbean global biodiversity hotspot. (A hotspot is a region of very high biological diversity that is also under a very high level of threat.)
Currently, the Tree Bank includes:
This year, we began studying the possibility of adding a water security component to the program. To learn the details of these activities, read the Tree Bank Hispaniola Work page.
Our goal is to create a system in which tropical small-holder farming is more compatible with native forest. We want to broaden the function of small-holder farming so that it includes, not just the production of conventional crops, but also the provision of ecological restoration services. We want our farmers to be able to sell both forest-compatible crops and those restoration services. Sales could come in the form of carbon or biodiversity credits, the sale of crops like Rising Forests coffee, and in the form of direct donations for conservation. Such a system, we hope, could one day benefit small-holders in the many parts of the rural tropics.
To see our project area, meet some of the people involved, and take a look at our work, view these three slide shows:
the Tree Bank Land slide show,
the Tree Bank People slide show, and
the Tree Bank Work slide show.
For a bird's-eye view of the region as a whole,
take a look at the Tree Bank Aerials slide show.
If you are interested in the wildlife value of the region’s native forest, look through our Tree Bank Bird List, which includes all threatened, endangered, endemic, and US-migrant bird species that may occur in our project area.
For broader context, take a look at our Tree Bank Reading List.
It costs nearly $30,000 a year to run the Tree Bank, and most of that money has come from our members—our extremely generous members.
When you donate to the Tree Bank, you are investing in two things. One of those things is little, the other is big, and both of them are highly innovative. The little thing is our local program along the Dominican Republic – Haiti border, where we are working to reconcile farms and forests. The big thing is the basic structure or model of that program—a model for a kind of rural development that may be applicable to millions of people in many regions of the forested or formerly forested tropics. And the innovation can be found throughout both the program itself and the model that it's based on—as we hope you’ll see from the descriptions available here.
A peculiar fact of life: just about everyone endorses innovation in the abstract, but relatively few people are able to see it, even when they're looking directly at it. Maybe that’s because innovation is inherently risky and the risks tend to obscure the opportunities. Or maybe it’s because innovation tends to arrive in unexpected shapes and sizes, which may make it hard to recognize. Whatever the reason, we are very grateful that innovative vision comes so naturally to the Sangha’s supporters.
Please help us stay both big and little. Donate to the Tree Bank.
At right: A satellite photograph of the island of Hispaniola. On the left, the eastern tip of Cuba projects into the frame. The red line is the border between Haiti (to the west) and the Dominican Republic. Our project is based on the Dominican side of the border, in the community of Los Cerezos, indicated by the tiny yellow dot. Green indicates vegetation but not necessarily forest.