Winner of the Whitley Gold Award donated by The Friends and The Scottish Friends of The Whitley Fund for Nature
Humanitarian and environmental challenges
Haiti is the poorest nation in the western hemisphere with 80% of Haitians living in poverty. Just 1% of Haiti’s original forest cover remains and, without the development of sustainable income generating alternatives, damaging activities such as over fishing, mangrove loss and the development of salt pans will continue to threaten biodiversity in Haiti’s fragile coastal and marine ecosystems.
From grassroots to government
For over 20 years, local Haitian, Jean Wiener, has worked tirelessly to address the severe environmental issues affecting his country. With his NGO, FoProBim, Jean focuses on addressing the needs of local communities through education, conflict resolution, and livelihood development. Jean also engages the Haitian government to achieve important environmental monitoring, management, and protection.
A Whitley Award winner in 2008 and a 2010 Continuation Funding recipient, with the support of WFN and other funders, Jean has:
- Provided data to support the creation of Haiti’s first two Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in 2013, covering over 2,100km2.
- Engaged the government to pass environmental legislation to protect all of Haiti’s mangroves, providing blanket coverage along 1,700km of coastline.
- Worked with local people to reuse over 100,000 plastic containers collected as marine debris and recycle them as mangrove plant pots in reforestation activities.
- Initiated new sustainable livelihood activities helping to reduce mangrove cutting.
Building on his success
Jean’s actions will now help Haiti to participate in regional and global initiatives, literally putting Haiti on the map as a country now committed to protecting and managing its coastal and marine resources. With his Gold Award funding, Jean aims to provide more local communities with the means to earn sustainable livelihoods and manage protected coastal resources, whilst continuing to work with stakeholders and officials to establish two additional MPAs, totalling 1,600 km2. Jean will also advance plans for a bi-national MPA with neighbouring Dominican Republic, covering over 1,700 km2. This would be the first bi-national MPA in the Caribbean.
“People who previously did not have the support they needed to voice their opinions have now become more vocal. This is a GREAT thing!”
2019 CONTINUATION FUNDING
Strengthening management of Haiti’s marine resources
£70,000 over 2 years
Jean’s organisation, FoProBiM, has helped establish Haiti’s first six Marine Managed Areas (MMAs) including the 750 km2 of the 3Bays MMA. Situated in the northeastern part of the country, it comprises five counties and approximately 1,000 fishers where fisheries have been found to use destructive methods that are “vacuuming” juvenile fish from the ecosystem. These are wiping out what should be, by many estimates, the most productive ecosystem in Haiti, which if properly managed, would easily produce more than 20 times the marketable catch currently harvested. Overfishing here is causing incalculable harm to local ecosystems and biodiversity including endangered sea turtles and manatees, with livelihood repercussions in a country where 80% of the population are living in poverty.
With his Continuation Funding, Jean aims to address the 3Bays management plan’s priority actions. This includes providing training to rangers, increasing the number of MMA patrols and monitoring and providing a gear swap programme where current illegal and damaging fishing gear can be traded for legal and sustainable gear. Finally, by working with fishers, Jean aims to develop alternative sources of revenue in apiculture to reduce pressures on the fisheries, which without the improved management his is working to instil, face collapse. Thanks to this work, Jean is turning the tide for marine life and those reliant on ocean resources in Haiti.