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Developing research and higher education on animal biodiversity and wildlife conservation in the Caribbean

Four Haitian students trained in Camargue to study and conserve biodiversity

Tue 18 Jul, 2017

Caribaea Initiative welcomed in Camargue from July 10 to August 4, 2017 four Haitian students, aged from 23 to 26 years old, with a master level diploma in agronomy, to enable them to follow a high-quality scientific and technical training, within the Tour du Valat, research institute for the conservation of Mediterranean wetlands.

Preserving biodiversity in Haiti: a major challenge

While the humanitarian situation in Haiti remains a matter of course, it must not lead us to forget another emergency, as is the environmental situation. The natural environment in Haiti is largely damaged, with forest cover reduced to nothing, and coastal areas threatened by climate variations and the harmful effects of anthropization. To the point where many endemic species (ecological state of a species being unique to a defined geographic location) are facing imminent extinction even before they have been documented/listed. Preserving this biodiversity is a major challenge for Haiti’s future. But just like anywhere else, punctual aid, however effective it may be, is not enough. It is necessary to build long term action, which means providing Haiti with a real capacity for expertise by training young Haitians at a high level (master’s degree, thesis) so that they can define and implement environmental protection policies for the benefit of local populations. However, training capacity in the field of biodiversity study and conservation is very low in this country, still marked by recent disasters (cyclones and earthquakes) that have deeply affected it.

A joint action between the association Caribaea Initiative and the Tour du Valat

In this context, Caribaea Initiative welcomed in Camargue from July 10th to August 4th 2017, four Haitian students aged from 23 to 26 years old, with a master level diploma in agronomy, to enable them to follow a high-quality scientific and technical training, within the research institute for the conservation of Mediterranean wetlands of Tour du Valat. In this privileged natural and scientific environment, world-renowned, they will be able to learn different methods used for the study, monitoring and management of wild fauna, by going into the field.

Thanks to the long-standing partnership between the two organizations, they will benefit from the expertise of Tour du Valat researchers and technicians, who will train them in the waterbird counting techniques, the demographic monitoring of aquatic turtle populations and the study of different groups of insects, including pollinators.

Upon their return to Haiti, they will be able to put into practice the knowledge gained for their own research projects about related and endangered species in their country, and share it with other Haitian students. During their stay in Camargue, they will also benefit from training in management of bibliographic resources and access to the Tour du Valat library, which is particularly well equipped with books and magazines in the fields of ecology and conservation biology. They will thus be able to contribute to an ongoing inventory of the scientific work carried out on Haiti’s animal biodiversity over the past fifty years, as this documentation is difficult to access or is not present in Haiti.

Projets ete Haiti TDV ACI 2017-06-27

From left to right : Jeffey Mackenzy Paul, Guerdy Saint-Juste, Lens Jerry Saint-Louis, Pierre Michard Beaujour

This training operation aims to build up, in the medium term, a network of Haitian scientific experts, able to conduct high quality studies on Haiti’s biodiversity and issuing management recommendations. All travel and living expenses, as well as the purchase of equipment that will be given to students and that they will bring with them to Haiti to carry out their respective projects, are covered by the Association Caribaea Initiative. There is no doubt that for these four students, for whom this is the first trip outside the Caribbean, it will be an enriching experience from both the professional and human points of views.

Download the following press release (available in French): Quatre étudiants haïtiens formés en Camargue à l’étude et à la conservation de la biodiversité

The newspaper La Provence published on August 08th a positive article entitled « D’Haïti ils viennent se former à la Tour du Valat » (From Haiti they come to be trained at Tour du Valat »). The students also participated in a one-hour radio program (Radio Melodie FM) a few days after returning to Haiti, giving lots of details about their fieldwork in Camargue (in creole).

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