An interdisciplinary approach to investigating agroforestry interventions in Haiti to strategize for program adoption and scaling

Planetary health recognizes that human health is closely connected to the shared environment. Globally, trees provide direct and indirect benefits towards soil quality, land restoration, food security, organic carbon, human health, and rural livelihoods. Agroforestry—the integration of trees with crops and livestock—is a recommended planetary health solution. Agroforestry can have a significant impact in places like Haiti where, in addition to severe land degradation, the country has one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the world and citizens have the poorest health outcomes in the Americas. Growing threats to food security, livelihoods, and health in Haiti as a result of persistent political instability, severe land degradation, and climate change (high climate risk index) call for national and international efforts to maximize the potential of agroforestry to promote sustainable land use practices. However, for agroforestry to achieve its full range of positive outcomes, it must be scaled up beyond the local level.

 

Our mission and vision

We strive to work collaboratively with members of the Haitian community and the agroforestry programs that support them in order to develop an evidence base for agroforestry interventions that addresses four main priorities:

  1. Identifying the accelerators for agroforestry program innovation adoption and scaling in the context of Haiti where state fragility is a concern.
  2. Identifying potential areas for agroforestry program uptake in order to strategize scaling activities.
  3. Quantify the potential impact of community-based agroforestry activities on carbon sequestration in order to generate smallholder carbon payments.
  4. Identify key priority indicators to monitor planetary health outcomes of agroforestry programs.

We aim to develop a public platform to coordinate agroforestry program implementation and investment in Haiti.

Project Funding

Funding for this project is supported by the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability and the Gates Millennium Scholars Program.

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Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability

Research Team

This project brings together faculty from Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and School of Veterinary Medicine and researchers from Conservational International with decades of experience in community-based research, public health, conservation ecology, and evaluation research in agroforestry that will play a critical role in the success of this project and demonstrate the impact of interdisciplinary research to advance planetary health.

Shorna leaning against a wooden wall

Lead Principal Investigator; Professor, Dept. of Natural Resources and the Environment, Dept. of Global Development, & Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University

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Project Coordinator, Gates Millennium Fellow, Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, Cornell University

Meredith headshot with gray background

Co-Principal Investigator; Professor of Practice; Associate Director of Public Health, Department of Public and Ecosystem Health, Cornell University

Headshot of Stephen Morreale with leaves background

Co-Principal Investigator; Senior Research Associate and Adj. Associate Professor, Dept. of Natural Resources and the Environment, Cornell University

Headshot of Louise Buck

Faculty Collaborator; Senior Extension Associate, Dept. of Natural Resources and the Environment, Cornell University

Headshot of Starry Sprenkle-Hyppolite with trees background

Research Collaborator; Restoration Science Director, Conservation International

Headshot of Arundhati Jagadish

Research Collaborator; Conservation Social Scientist, Conservation International

Headshot of Madeline Keep and field in the background

Spatial Analyst; Cornell Engineering ‘21; Visiting Scholar

Research Highlights

Academic Venture Fund Grant

The Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability awards Academic Venture Fund Grant to conduct a three-year research project to study agroforestry scaling in Haiti (2021-2024). The AVF seeds original, interdisciplinary research that is not likely to find funding elsewhere because the projects are novel, risky, need early data to establish traction or involve new teams working together.

Research highlight: Biodiversity, Carbon Capture, and Climate Resilience

Photos from the field