Teacher Introductory Narrative
I would like you to think about two very different countries. One you have heard about a lot on the news, Haiti. It is a Caribbean island that is almost completely devoid of trees. According to a recent UNESCO report:
The island's coastal plains, where the bulk of agricultural activity normally occurs, are bordered on one side by mountain slopes which are denuded of trees by the production of charcoal (the country's main source of domestic energy)… As well, the uncontrolled exploitation of land resources results in excessive erosion and sedimentation in the watershed areas as well as along the coastline, where such practices in turn affect the development of coastal resources. The pressures of industrial development and increasing tourism are likely to increase in the near future.
The other country is the Dominican Republic, also in the Caribbean, but it is a lush tropical island with extensive trees and forests. From 1992 to 1999 the Dominican Republic was among the fastest growing economies in the world, registering annual GDP growth rates in excess of 6 percent. (See: http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/cross-cutting_programs/wid/pubs/DominicanRepublic_Economic_Snapshot_Dec2005.pdf)
What are some possible reasons these two countries could be so different? (Discuss with students.) Perhaps you might be surprised to learn that these two countries are physically part of the same island!