Haiti, located in the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean, is part of one of the most important "hotspots" of biological diversity in the world. Its flora has been studied by several foreign botanists since 1697. More than 5,600 vascular plants have been reported (Acevedo-Rodriguez 2012). Almost all this data is currently deposited in overseas institutions, mainly from Europe and the United States. To date, a few Haitian institutions hold information about its flora. The United Nations has declared the decade from 2021 to 2030 as the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration as a global rallying call to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide. This call is vital to impulse movements to protect and restore the biodiversity of Haiti. This call is perhaps most important in Haiti. Nearly 96% of all terrestrial ecosystems in Haiti have been highly altered and are in urgent need of biological restoration. Many of the current projects to restore Haiti’s ecosystems rely on exotic trees for reforestation. Currently, 90% of the trees used are non-native and even invasive such as Albizia lebbeck, Acacia magnum, and Azadirachta indica. Therefore, these projects might bring more harm than benefits, threatening even more of the country’s rich endemic biodiversity and negatively impacting entire ecosystems. Since 2016, the team from Jardin Botanique des Cayes has worked to address these issues by studying and documenting native trees in the wild and promoting their inclusion in restoration efforts nationwide. To study our native flora, we organize scientific field trips to identify indigenous species, photograph plants and ecosystems, take herbarium specimens, and collect seeds to propagate them. We also develop partnerships with local and international institutions to store seeds and to collaborate testing propagation protocols. To support this vital work we are actively looking for financial aid through grants or sponsorships. In the past six years, we have photographed and collected over 1,500 of the more than 5,600 species reported for Haiti. These include seeds from approximately 500 indigenous herbs, shrubs, and trees, which have been selected as potential species for restoration projects. Our nurseries have successfully propagated many native species from seeds, including some of the most threatened taxa reported for the country. The team at the Jardin Botanique des Cayes is working hard to encourage the inclusion of these native trees in all reforestation and restoration projects across the country.
Native plants, ecosystem restauration, bIodiversity, hotspot, threatened taxa