An ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction approach was implemented in Port Salut using a ridge-to-reef approach that included inland and coastal revegetation and improving the sustainability of local fisheries.
The Port Salut municipality in Haiti is becoming increasingly vulnerable to more frequent and extreme coastal risks including sea level rise and storm surges. In an effort to bolster community and ecosystem resilience, the Côte Sud Initiative (CSI) together with the UN Environment Programme worked together to implement an ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR) initiative using a ridge-to-reef approach. The ridge-to-reef approach constitutes a portfolio of interventions that cover the entire landscape from hills to sea in an effort to boost overall ecosystem resilience. More specifically, the project implemented three specific actions. First, re-vegetation and more sustainable vetiver farming was introduced and expanded to reduce the risk of upland erosion and inland flooding. Second, coastal areas underwent significant revegetation in order to strengthen the area’s biological buffer against storm surges and flooding. In practical support of these first two interventions, a tree nursery was established producing 137,000 seedlings of coastal and riparian species and fruit trees. As a result, 141 hectares were reforested with 54,065 fruit and forestry trees planted on and around riverbanks to reduce soil and riverbank erosion and 36,300 mangroves and sea grape trees planted on the shoreline and river mouths to mitigate storm surge and flood risk. Lastly, more sustainable fisheries management has been implemented including the reparation of fishing boats to allow fishers to fish in deeper waters and, as a result, reduce pressure on near-shore ecosystems. Port Salut has also been designated as one of Haiti’s first marine protected areas. These actions have all been supported by larger-scale capacity building and advocacy efforts across the country promoting Eco-DRR and marine protected area management.
The interventions reportedly reduced people’s exposure to coastal hazards, in particular storm surges and coastal flooding. The locally managed early warning system established to better prepare for storms and hurricanes is also predicted to reduce the magnitude of harmful impacts caused by these events.
Reforestation activities were reported to have helped reduce sedimentation run-off in near-shore coastal and marine ecosystems like coral reefs and seagrass beds, for example, a challenge which was found to have contributed to their degradation prior to the intervention.
150 local community members reportedly received training on coastal species nursery management from the Ministry of Environment and local community leaders. More than 100 community members were provided with temporary employment to support in the land preparation necessary for the interventions to take place.