Wood-residue briquettes will relieve pressure in Haiti deforestation and create a market for the product. In Haiti, it would involve growing a renewable biomass crop – such as cane, vetiver or kenaf. Their by-products would furnish raw material for a briquetting operation.
Today in 1991, less than 5% of Haiti is forested, compared to 80% when Columbus landed there. The problem lies in the poverty-ensnared Haitians cutting trees for fuel and building materials with little thought to the long term environmental consequences. Already aerial photography shows the country riddled with bare terrain.
Furthermore, the worsening environmental situation in Haiti had exacerbated erosion caused by the deforestation, introduced silt into coastal waters and devastated the Haitian fishing industry, further aggravating Haitians’ search for reliable food sources and enhancing the country poverty.
Without electricity, rural Haitians use wood and charcoal for about 90 percent of their energy need. Because the charcoal comes from the few remaining trees on the island, Haiti could become almost completely deforested within two decades. Additionally, Haitian spend a disproportionate amount of their meagre income on fuel.
In 1985, the annual charcoal consumption in Port-au-Prince was estimated at 120,000 metric tonnes per year. The retail price was between 20 to 30 gourdes per gros sac (“large sack”) or about $ 150 – 155 per metric tonne (in 1985, 5 gourdes equalled $US 1). Charcoal is primarily used in Port-au-Prince for residual cooking with the smaller additional amount used by restaurants and street vendors. Charcoal is also used in the countryside as well as in urban centres, but the price tends to be lower in Port-au-Prince.