Haiti Reforestation Act of 2010

Bill Number: 
S.1183
Bill Location: 
Date of Last Action: 
Friday, December 3, 2010
Relevant Text: 

111th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 1183

To authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to provide assistance to the Government of Haiti to end within 5 years the deforestation in Haiti and restore within 30 years the extent of tropical forest cover in existence in Haiti in 1990, and for other purposes.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

June 4, 2009

Mr. DURBIN (for himself and Mr. BROWNBACK) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations

A BILL

To authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to provide assistance to the Government of Haiti to end within 5 years the deforestation in Haiti and restore within 30 years the extent of tropical forest cover in existence in Haiti in 1990, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `Haiti Reforestation Act of 2009'.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS; PURPOSE.

(a) Findings- Congress finds that--

(1) the established policy of the Federal Government is to support and seek protection of tropical forests around the world;

(2) tropical forests provide a wide range of benefits by--

(A) harboring a major portion of the biological and terrestrial resources of Earth and providing habitats for an estimated 10,000,000 to 30,000,000 plant and animal species, including species essential to medical research and agricultural productivity;

(B) playing a critical role as carbon sinks that reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, as 1 hectare of tropical forest can absorb up to approximately 3 tons of carbon dioxide per year, thus moderating potential global climate change; and

(C) regulating hydrological cycles upon which agricultural and coastal resources depend;

(3) tropical forests are also a key factor in reducing rates of soil loss, particularly on hilly terrain;

(4) while international efforts to stem the tide of tropical deforestation have accelerated during the past 2 decades, the rapid rate of tropical deforestation continues unabated;

(5) in 1923, over 60 percent of the land of Haiti was forested but, by 2006, that percentage had decreased to less than 2 percent;

(6) during the period beginning in 2000 and ending in 2005, the deforestation rate in Haiti accelerated by more than 20 percent over the deforestation rate in Haiti during the period beginning in 1990 and ending in 1999;

(7) as a result, during the period described in paragraph (6), Haiti lost--

(A) nearly 10 percent (approximately 11,000 hectares) of the forest cover of Haiti; and

(B) approximately 22 percent of the total forest and woodland habitat of Haiti;

(8) poverty and economic pressures are--

(A) two factors that underlie the tropical deforestation of Haiti; and

(B) manifested particularly through the clearing of vast areas of forest for conversion to agricultural uses;

(9) the unemployment rate of Haiti is approximately 80 percent;

(10) the per capita income of Haiti is $450 per year, which is barely one-tenth of the per capita income of Latin America and the Caribbean;

(11) two-thirds of the population of Haiti depend on the agricultural sector, which consists mainly of small-scale subsistence farming;

(12) 60 percent of the population of Haiti relies on charcoal produced from cutting down trees for cooking fuel;

(13) soil erosion represents the most direct effect of the deforestation of Haiti, as the erosion has--

(A) lowered the productivity of the land due to the poor soils underlying the tropical forests;

(B) worsened the severity of droughts;

(C) led to further deforestation;

(D) significantly decreased the quality and, as a result, quantity of freshwater and clean drinking water available to the population of Haiti; and

(E) increased the pressure on the remaining land and trees in Haiti;

(14) tropical forests provide forest cover to soften the effect of heavy rains and reduce erosion by anchoring the soil with their roots;

(15) when trees are cleared, rainfall runs off the soil more quickly and contributes to floods and further erosion;

(16) in 2004, Hurricane Jeanne struck Haiti, killing approximately 3,000, and affecting over 200,000, people, partly because deforestation had resulted in the clearing of large hillsides, which enabled rainwater to run off directly to settlements located at the bottom of the slopes;

(17) research conducted by the United Nations Environmental Programme has revealed a direct (89 percent) correlation between the extent of the deforestation of a country and the incidence of victims per weather event in the country;

(18) finding economic benefits for local communities from sustainable uses of tropical forests is critical for the long-term protection of the tropical forests in Haiti; and

(19) tropical reforestation efforts would provide new sources of jobs, income, and investments in Haiti by--

(A) providing employment opportunities in tree seedling programs, contract tree planting and management, sustainable agricultural initiatives, sustainable and managed timber harvesting, and wood products milling and finishing services; and

(B) enhancing community enterprises that generate income through the trading of sustainable forest resources, many of which exist on small scales in Haiti and in the rest of the region.

(b) Purpose- The purpose of this Act is to provide assistance to the Government of Haiti to develop and implement, or improve, nationally appropriate policies and actions--

(1) to reduce deforestation and forest degradation in Haiti; and

(2) to increase annual rates of afforestation and reforestation in a measurable, reportable, and verifiable manner--

(A) to eliminate within 5 years after the date of enactment of this Act any further net deforestation of Haiti; and

(B) to restore within 30 years after the date of enactment of this Act the forest cover of Haiti to the surface area that the forest cover had occupied in 1990.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

In this Act:

(1) ADMINISTRATOR- The term `Administrator' means the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.

(2) AFFORESTATION-

(A) IN GENERAL- The term `afforestation' means the establishment of a new forest through the seeding of, or planting of tress on, a parcel of nonforested land.

(B) INCLUSION- The term `afforestation' includes the introduction of a tree species to a parcel of nonforested land of which the species is not a native species.

(3) SECRETARY- The term `Secretary' means the Secretary of Agriculture.

TITLE I--FORESTATION ASSISTANCE TO GOVERNMENT OF HAITI

SEC. 101. FORESTATION ASSISTANCE.

(a) Authority of Secretary-

(1) IN GENERAL- In accordance with paragraph (2), the Secretary, in consultation with the Administrator, may offer to enter into agreements with the Government of Haiti to provide financial assistance, technology transfers, or capacity building assistance for the conduct of activities to develop and implement 1 or more forestation proposals under paragraph (2)--

(A) to reduce the deforestation of Haiti; and

(B) to increase the rates of afforestation and reforestation in Haiti.

(2) PROPOSALS-

(A) IN GENERAL- To be eligible for assistance under paragraph (1), the Government of Haiti shall submit to the Secretary 1 or more proposals that contain--

(i) a description of each policy and initiative to be carried out using the assistance; and

(ii) adequate documentation to ensure, as determined by the Secretary, that--

(I) each policy and initiative will be--

(aa) carried out and managed in accordance with widely accepted environmentally sustainable forestry and agricultural practices; and

(bb) designed and implemented in a manner by which to improve the governance of forests by building governmental capacity to be more transparent, inclusive, accountable, and coordinated in decisionmaking processes and the implementation of the policy or initiative; and

(II) the Government of Haiti will establish and enforce legal regimes, standards, and safeguards--

(aa) to prevent violations of human rights and the rights of local communities and indigenous people;

(bb) to prevent harm to vulnerable social groups; and

(cc) to ensure that members of local communities and indigenous people in affected areas, as partners and primary stakeholders, will be engaged in the design, planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of the policies and initiatives.

(B) DETERMINATION OF COMPATIBILITY WITH CERTAIN PROGRAMS- In evaluating each proposal under subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall ensure that each policy and initiative described in the proposal submitted by the Government of Haiti under that subparagraph is compatible with--

(i) broader development, poverty alleviation, and natural resource conservation objectives and initiatives in Haiti; and

(ii) the development, poverty alleviation, disaster risk management, and climate resilience programs of the Department of Agriculture.

(b) Eligible Activities- Any assistance received by the Government of Haiti under subsection (a)(1) shall be used to implement a proposal developed under subsection (a)(2), which may include--

(1) the provision of technologies and associated support for activities to reduce deforestation or increase afforestation and reforestation rates, including--

(A) fire reduction initiatives;

(B) forest law enforcement initiatives;

(C) the development of timber tracking systems;

(D) the development of cooking fuel substitutes;

(E) initiatives to increase agricultural productivity;

(F) tree-planting initiatives; and

(G) programs that are designed to focus on market-based solutions, including programs that leverage the international carbon-offset market;

(2) the enhancement and expansion of governmental and nongovernmental institutional capacity to effectively design and implement a proposal developed under subsection (a)(2) through initiatives, including--

(A) the establishment of transparent, accountable, and inclusive decisionmaking processes relating to all stakeholders (including affected local communities);

(B) the promotion of enhanced coordination among ministries and agencies responsible for agroecological zoning, mapping, land planning and permitting, sustainable agriculture, forestry, and law enforcement; and

(C) the clarification of land tenure and resource rights of affected communities, including local communities and indigenous peoples; and

(3) the development and support of institutional capacity to measure, verify, and report the activities carried out by the Government of Haiti to reduce deforestation and increase afforestation and reforestation rates through the use of appropriate methods, including--

(A) the use of best practices and technologies to monitor any change in the forest cover of Haiti;

(B) the monitoring of the impacts of policies and initiatives on--

(i) affected communities;

(ii) the biodiversity of the environment of Haiti; and

(iii) the health of the tropical forests of Haiti; and

(C) independent and participatory forest monitoring.

(c) Development of Performance Metrics-

(1) IN GENERAL- If the Secretary provides assistance under subsection (a)(1), in accordance with paragraph (2), the Secretary, in cooperation with the Government of Haiti and, if necessary, in consultation with the Administrator, shall develop appropriate performance metrics to measure, verify, and report--

(A) the conduct of each policy and initiative to be carried out by the Government of Haiti;

(B) the results of each policy and initiative with respect to the tropical forests of Haiti; and

(C) each impact of each policy and initiative on the local communities and indigenous people of Haiti.

(2) REQUIREMENTS- Performance metrics developed under paragraph (1) shall, to the maximum extent practicable, include short-term and long-term metrics to evaluate the implementation of each policy and initiative contained in each proposal developed under subsection (a)(2).

(d) Reports-

(1) INITIAL REPORT- Not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report that describes the actions that the Secretary has taken, and plans to take--

(A) to engage with the Government of Haiti, nongovernmental stakeholders, and public and private nonprofit organizations to implement this section; and

(B) to enter into agreements with the Government of Haiti under subsection (a)(1).

(2) BIENNUAL REPORTS- Not later than 2 years after the date on which the Secretary first provides assistance to the Government of Haiti under subsection (a)(1) and biennially thereafter, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report that describes the progress of the Government of Haiti in implementing each policy and initiative contained in the proposal submitted under subsection (a)(2).

(e) Additional Assistance- The Secretary may provide financial and other assistance to nongovernmental stakeholders to ensure--

(1) the access by local communities and indigenous people to information relating to each policy and initiative to be carried out by the Government of Haiti through funds made available under subsection (a)(1); and

(2) that the groups described in paragraph (1) have an appropriate opportunity to participate effectively in the design, implementation, and independent monitoring of each policy and initiative.

(f) Nongovernmental Organization- At the election of the Government of Haiti, or on the determination of the Secretary, in cooperation with the Government of Haiti, the Government of Haiti may enter into an agreement with a private, nongovernmental conservation organization authorizing the organization to act on behalf of the Government of Haiti for the purposes of this section.

(g) Authorization of Appropriations- There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to carry out this section.

TITLE II--GRANTS FOR REFORESTATION

SEC. 201. REFORESTATION GRANT PROGRAM.

(a) Establishment- The Secretary, in consultation with the Administrator, shall establish a grant program to carry out the purposes of this Act, including reversing deforestation and improving reforestation and afforestation in Haiti.

(b) Grants Authorized-

(1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary is authorized to award grants and contracts to public and private nonprofit organizations to carry out projects that, in the aggregate, reverse deforestation and improve reforestation and afforestation.

(2) MAXIMUM AMOUNT-

(A) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in subparagraph (B), the Secretary may not award a grant under this section in an amount greater than $500,000 per year.

(B) EXCEPTION- The Secretary may award a grant under this section in an amount greater than $500,000 per year if the Secretary determines that the recipient of the grant has demonstrated success with respect to a project that was the subject of a grant under this section.

(3) DURATION- The Secretary shall award grants under this section for a period not to exceed 3 years.

(c) Use of Funds-

(1) IN GENERAL- Grants awarded pursuant to subsection (b) may be used for activities such as--

(A) providing a financial incentive to protect trees;

(B) providing hands-on management and oversight of replanting efforts;

(C) focusing on sustainable income-generating growth;

(D) providing seed money to start cooperative reforestation and afforestation efforts and providing subsequent conditional funding for such efforts contingent upon required tree care and maintenance activities;

(E) promoting widespread use of improved cooking stove technologies and the development of liquid biofuels, to the extent that neither results in the harvesting of tropical forest growth; and

(F) securing the involvement and commitment of local communities and indigenous peoples--

(i) to protect tropical forests in existence as of the date of enactment of this Act; and

(ii) to carry out afforestation and reforestation activities.

(2) CONSISTENCY WITH PROPOSALS- To the maximum extent practicable, a project carried out using grant funds shall support and be consistent with the proposal developed under section 101(a)(2) that is the subject of the project.

(d) Application-

(1) IN GENERAL- To be eligible for a grant under this section, an entity shall prepare and submit an application at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the Secretary may reasonably require.

(2) CONTENT- Each application submitted under paragraph (1) shall include--

(A) a description of the objectives to be attained;

(B) a description of the manner in which the grant funds will be used;

(C) a plan for evaluating the success of the project based on verifiable evidence; and

(D) to the extent that the applicant intends to use nonnative species in afforestation efforts, an explanation of the benefit of the use of nonnative species over native species.

(3) PREFERENCE FOR CERTAIN PROJECTS- In awarding grants under this section, the Secretary shall give preference to applicants that propose--

(A) to develop market-based solutions to the difficulty of reforestation in Haiti, including the use of conditional cash transfers and similar financial incentives to protect reforestation efforts;

(B) to partner with local communities and cooperatives; and

(C) to focus on efforts that build local capacity to sustain growth after the completion of the underlying grant project.

(e) Dissemination of Information- The Secretary shall collect and widely disseminate information about the effectiveness of the demonstration projects assisted under this section.

(f) Authorization of Appropriations- There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to carry out this section.

SEC. 202. FOREST PROTECTION GRANTS.

Chapter 7 of part I of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2281 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 466 the following new section:

`SEC. 467. PILOT PROGRAM FOR HAITI.

`(a) Submission of List of Areas of Severely Degraded Natural Resources- The Administrator of the Agency for International Development, in cooperation with nongovernmental conservation organizations, shall invite the Government of Haiti to submit a list of areas within the territory of Haiti in which tropical forests are seriously degraded or threatened.

`(b) Review of List- The Administrator shall assess the list submitted by the Government of Haiti under subsection (a) and shall seek to reach agreement with the Government of Haiti for the restoration and future sustainable use of those areas.

`(c) Grant Program-

`(1) GRANTS AUTHORIZED- The Administrator of the Agency for International Development is authorized to make grants, in consultation with the International Forestry Division of the Department of Agriculture and on such terms and conditions as may be necessary, to nongovernmental organizations for the purchase on the open market of discounted commercial debt of the Government of Haiti in exchange for commitments by the Government of Haiti to restore tropical forests identified by the Government under subsection (a) or for commitments to develop plans for sustainable use of such tropical forests.

`(2) MANAGEMENT OF PROTECTED AREAS- Each recipient of a grant under this subsection shall participate in the ongoing management of the area or areas protected pursuant to such grant.

`(3) RETENTION OF PROCEEDS- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a grantee (or any subgrantee) of the grants referred to in section (a) may retain, without deposit in the Treasury of the United States and without further appropriation by Congress, interest earned on the proceeds of any resulting debt-for-nature exchange pending the disbursements of such proceeds and interest for approved program purposes, which may include the establishment of an endowment, the income of which is used for such purposes.

`(d) Authorization of Appropriations- There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to carry out this section.'.

END