The present report has been commissioned by USAID in Haiti as an attempt to provide a conceptual overview of the soil conservation projects that have been operating in Haiti during the past two and a half decades. Recent studies commissioned by USAID have referred in a convincing but general way to the central role which deforestation and soil erosion play in the contemporary impoverishment of the rural economy, and few persons would dispute the contention that reforestation and general soil conservation constitute a sine qua non for any serious rural development in a country which has nearly 80% of its surface in the form of slopes.
Put no coherent stance or policy toward these matters has as yet coalesced in the Haiti mission. On the contrary, one senses the presence of bewilderment and hopelessness in the face of what gives every appearance of being a rapidly deteriorating ecological situation. Is there any useful assistance which a powerful funding agency can give that would stand a chance of having some positive impact?