Image courtesy of Kendra Helmer, USAID via Wikimedia Commons

Image courtesy of Kendra Helmer, USAID via Wikimedia Commons

The epitome of poverty, Haiti makes for a fascinating study of urban and rural development, riparian ecology, and/or small-holder and subsistence agriculture.  The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti underwent tremendous deforestation in the 20th century, and very little forest cover remains. This has impacted the ecology and economy of the nation in dramatic ways. More recently, Haiti has suffered the misfortune of a crushing earthquake followed by a cholera outbreak that slowed the recovery.  The case study itself is located around the capital of Port-au-Prince and the surrounding countryside. Riverine health is a topic of concern, given the treeless slopes and frequent hurricanes. Another issue is the continued weakness of the agricultural industry, as small-holder farmers struggle to achieve economic self-sufficiency and food security. Urban migration is high and has led to the rapid development of slums around the perimeter of the city.

As a case study, Haiti will require some life cycle assessment adaptatations due to its low-intensity farming methods. However, this is compensated for by more straightforward land cover and geospatial research possibilities. Of particular interest is Haiti’s continued dependence upon food aid, primarily from subsidized American farms. Be sure to check out the imagery for Haiti via Google Earth – it’s super high resolution imagery let’s you see individual trees!


Energy/Resources:    Energy Backgrounder    Energy Profile    Traditional Fuel Consumption    Refurbish Hydro Plant    Solar Energy and Briquettes    Micro-Hydroelectric Power   Wind Energy

Agriculture:    Agricultural Overview    Coffee    Rice    “Haitian farmers undermined by food aid” – Canada Haiti Action Network    Sustainable Path for Coffee

Conservation/Ecology:    Soil Conservation Efforts    Reforestation    Backgrounder including Agro-forestry    Rising Tide    Water Birds    Resilience in Caribbean Countries

Society/Urban:    Haiti Base Map    Feeding Haiti    Haiti’s Imported Disaster    Cultural Recovery    Haiti, Unfinished and Forsaken    Over the Spread of Cholera in Haiti    Health Benefits of Eating Mud    Hurricane Sandy Destroys Harvests    “Food dependency is poverty trap for quake-hit Haiti” – Reuters    Driving the Seam of Hispaniola

For an academic source of information, see the work of Sean Smukler who is at UBC and will be visiting our class in January.

Basic Geodata

Land cover data (compatible with ArcGIS) will be provided to you in class, covering three past time periods since the 1980s. The links below will show you the approximate boundaries (as seen in Google Earth with recent years), as well as the basic changes in land cover.

view in Google Earth

view Simple Land Cover Maps

Remember, in addition to Landsat-derived land cover, there are several more auxiliary geodata sets that have already been collected for you and will be provided in lab. These data include: terrain/elevation, nightlights which represent population, floristic zones, etc. and are available at all study locations. These datasets are introduced and explained further under Additional Data Sources. In addition to these ready-to-go, prepared auxiliary datasets, this page also provides ideas for additional datasets you might find on your own.