A widely cited report from 1979 suggested that existing wood supplies in Haiti would be enough to meet increasing charcoal demand until around the year 2000, but that ongoing charcoal production could result in an environmental ‘apocalypse’ (Voltaire 1979, 21, 23). The prediction that wood supplies in Haiti would be exhausted by 2000 was also supported by a report on trends emerging from early remote sensing analyses of aerial photographs spanning from 1956 to 1978, for three different locations in Haiti (Cohen 1984, v–iv). And yet, some 40 years later, Haitians continue to produce large quantities of charcoal despite these dire predictions to the contrary.
The research presented in this report directly addresses important and unresolved questions stemming from the unexpected fact that Haitians continue to meet approximately 80 percent of their national energy needs through firewood and charcoal production:
- How much charcoal is consumed annually in the capital city of Port-au-Prince?
- Which geographical regions produce the charcoal consumed in the capital?
- How do these production areas variably supply charcoal to the capital?
- In what ways have these trends changed over time? and
- What percentage of charcoal is originating from the bordering Dominican Republic?