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La Vallée de Jacmel, Haiti

Once called the “Green Pearl of the Caribbean” for its vast natural wealth and lush tropical forests, today Haiti is devastated by hurricanes, earthquakes, poverty and famine. Due to intense deforestation and overgrazing, only 2% of the island’s original forest remains, making the country even more susceptible to natural disaster such as landslides and crop failures. Working closely with the Netherlands and Haitian Red Cross National Societies, Commonland is co-creating landscape strategies and partnerships needed to regenerate the natural infrastructure on the island’s, starting in the south eastern region, in La Vallée de Jacmel. Regeneration that will help Haitians proactively adapt to future climate challenges and mitigate the risks from natural disasters.

The Red Cross and Commonland together form a unique combination of expertise and strength where The Red Cross’s preventive approach is combined with the holistic 4 returns methodology from Commonland where landscape restoration is supported by the development of sustainable business models. Together they form the 4 Returns 4 Resilience approach.

The aspiration of this partnership is to see Haiti as a country where its people feel safe, valued, and interconnected, while reaping the benefits of managing their land profitably and sustainably. A place where local and international organizations work together towards one common goal: making Haiti autonomous and resilient to climate change and natural and human-made disasters. To reverse the fortunes of the islanders and break the vicious cycle of poverty and disaster, the aim is to transform Haiti’s degraded hills into safe landscapes with thriving local communities and economies, each one of them becoming a “Green Pearl”. And in doing so, offer a brighter future for the next generation.

When complete, the joint project will restore not only the region’s natural infrastructure, but also support the livelihoods and economies – from food security and fresh water supplies to bio-energy, fishery and recreational benefits (read: tourism). No less important is the vital role healthy ecosystems play in mitigating disasters. If sustainably managed, healthy ecosystems act as buffers against the negative impacts of tropical storms, earthquakes and mudslides – or even prevent them from happening altogether.

Ecosystem restoration in Haiti could completely transform the island and massively change the perception of the world. Haiti as a successful example of ecological restoration would be one of the most powerful statements possible, propelling humanity to restore all degraded lands on Earth.
John D Liu, Chinese-American filmmaker, ecologist and landscape restoration expert, and Ambassador of Commonland

To inspire long-term sustainable involvement and management, the project’s partners are actively engaging La Vallée de Jacmel’s local communities to co-design interventions specific to the region. For example, using traditional permaculture methods such as ‘jardin lakou’ for the design of reforestation and ecological restoration activities. The Netherlands and Haitian Red Crosses continue to assess which areas and communities are most exposed to risks, while the project’s local business partner LEOS is working tirelessly to identify value chain opportunities for sustainable long-term profit.

In addition to creating the landscape strategy and the strategic partnerships, Commonland also supports the design of a (carbon) finance strategy to assure long-term implementation and project monitoring.

While the La Vallée de Jacmel project’s goal is to restore Haiti’s status as the “Green Pearl of the Caribbean”, the Red Cross is already exploring other regions like the Philippines and Ivory Coast to implement the 4 Returns framework. Which goes to show that Haiti has the potential to inspire far beyond its island’s borders.

Giving people hope and a sense of purpose.
Social Capital
Bringing back jobs, business activity, education and security.
Natural Capital
Restoring biodiversity, soil, water quality and capturing carbon.
Financial Capital
Realizing long-term sustainable profit.

Current status

Local communities are currently being engaged and brought together to co-design interventions.


Giving people hope and a sense of purpose by supporting them in restoring their livelihood and landscape.



Current status

The Dutch and Haitian Red Cross are currently assessing the areas and communities that are most exposed to risks.


By bringing back jobs, business activities, education and security, we are working with the Red Cross to make the La Vallèe de Jacmel community more resilient to climate change, extreme weather events and food insecurity.

Current status

Partners are being identified for the design of reforestation and ecological restoration activities.



By implementing permaculture-type interventions that have been traditionally used by Haitians in what they call ‘jardin lakou’, we are restoring biodiversity, soil and water quality to reduce the risk of landslide and other land related risks. Identifying potential new protected areas for the reforestation of degraded areas.


Current status

Value chains opportunities are being identified together with the local business partner LEOS.


Realizing long-term sustainable profit by identifying potentially viable value chains together with local businesses.