Singling out shrubs in Haiti

What is Singling?

Over the course of the past forty to fifty years, tens of millions of Bayawonn trees have been cut down in Haiti for use as fuelwood in the manufacturing of charcoal. Amazingly these trees did not die. Bayawonn trees are a coppice species—instead of dying, the stumps of the trees begin growing into thorny, bushy shrubs.

Left to nature, these tree stumps will continue to grow and will create massive, useless shrubs. However, with the process of singling, the shrubs can grow back into thriving trees!

We have been using the singling process to restore forests at one of its most challenging locations in Haiti.

Singling at Providence University, Haiti

Providence University has been one of our most challenging locations for reforestation. Our employees began using the singling process to tame the wild shrubs that once were Bayawonn trees (known as Mesquite in the United States). The workers cut back all but one to three of the strongest and straightest stems growing from the Bayawonn shrub. These remaining stems are then protected, and within two to five years will “single” the shrub to grow back into a tree. The excess branches that are removed are either used for fencing or fuel so that nothing goes to waste.

The Future for the Bayawonn Trees

After two to five years of singling the Bayawonn shrubs at Providence University, the trees are providing the initial canopy for the new forest being planted. The Bayawonn still have their original root system in place and continue to grow strong. Not only are they a tough species, but they also improve the soil by taking nitrogen and making it available to the newer trees. Once the singling process has been completed in an area, the gaps between the Bayawonn trees are filled with saplings of other species that are being grown in our nurseries. We already see a diverse forest reemerging in areas that were once completely deforested and desertified and look forward to seeing it increase as the singling process expands.

In addition to being a great asset in reestablishing the forests of Haiti, the Bayawonn trees could potentially be beneficial to local farms. The seedpods of the trees could be a useful food source for livestock, and the carefully managed forests can provide wood for shelter and animal fodder.

How you can help plant trees and save lives