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Sample-Based Estimation of Tree Cover Change in Haiti Using Aerial Photography: Substantial Increase in Tree Cover between 2002 and 2010

17 September 2021

Authors: Gabriela Rodrigues-Eklund, Matthew C. Hansen, Alexandra Tyukavina, Stephen V. Stehman, Klaus Hubacek, and Giovanni Baiocchi.

Journal: Forests, Volume 12, Issue 9.


Recent studies have used high resolution imagery to estimate tree cover and changes in natural forest cover in Haiti. However, there is still no rigorous quantification of tree cover change accounting for planted or managed trees, which are very important in Haiti’s farming systems. We estimated net tree cover change, gross loss, and gross gain in Haiti between 2002 and 2010 from a stratified random sample of 400 pixels with a systematic sub-sample of 25 points. Using 30 cm and 1 m resolution images, we classified land cover at each point, with any point touching a woody plant higher than 5 m classified as tree crown. We found a net increase in tree crown cover equivalent to 5.0 ± 2.3% (95% confidence interval) of Haiti’s land area. Gross gains and losses amounted to 9.0 ± 2.1% and 4.0 ± 1.3% of the territory, respectively. These results challenge, for the first time with empirical evidence, the predominant narrative that portrays Haiti as experiencing ongoing forest or tree cover loss. The net gain in tree cover quantified here represents a 35% increase from 2002 to 2010. Further research is needed to determine the drivers of this substantial net gain in tree cover at the national scale.

Last modified:21 September 2021 09.34 a.m.

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