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Rescue missions underway to save Haiti's species from mass extinctions
Date:11/16/2010

re definitely is no other place in the western half of the world -- and some scientists would argue in the entire world -- where the extinction threat is greater than in Haiti."

Hedges explained that the forests of Haiti are disappearing because the trees are being cut down to produce charcoal for the 10-million Haitian people who have few other sources of cooking fuel. "When you have a species that lives only in one mountain-top forest, and that forest suddenly disappears because you start harvesting all the trees for charcoal, then that species is guaranteed to become extinct along with all other species of animals and plants living only in that forest," Hedges said. "Virtually every truck you see on the rural roads is loaded down with bags of charcoal coming from the mountains, where people are cutting down the trees and making charcoal to be sold in the city of Port au Prince. The forests from some entire mountains now have been removed completely. In places, it looks like a lunar landscape, with nearly all the soil washed away and only the rocks and some weeds left behind."

Hedges has found that trees are not being protected even in the national parks of Haiti. "The commander of the park guards in the largest national park told us that only 10 unarmed guards are working at any one time in the park but typically 200 teams of tree cutters are at work there, armed with machetes and other weapons." Recently a park guard in Haiti was killed by tree cutters.

"The pressure for cutting down the forests is coming from a whole island nation of people needing cooking fuel -- a problem requiring economic and possibly engineering solutions and needing the help of major international conservation organizations and government agencies," said Philippe Bayard, President of the Audubon Society of Haiti and collaborator with Hedges in efforts to save Haiti's biodiversity. "Unless effective help arrives soon, it is inevitable that there will be mass
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Contact: Barbara Kennedy
science@psu.edu
814-863-4682
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3 4 5

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