Because Haiti's geographic location is in the path of Atlantic hurricanes, combined with the steep topography of her western region from which all major river systems flow, she is particularly vulnerable to hydrometeorological disasters, especially between June and December. Mudslides are common along river valleys where years of deforestation have left the upper reaches of the western basins bare. Cyclones, floods, and droughts are also common.
Landscape mapping allows us to locate specific features, changes in vegetation, existing infrastructure, settlements, etc. in an effort to discern patterns and potential beneficial relationships. We gather information from reliable mapping sources and all planning is predicated on this. Landscape mapping is the baseline for all our planning efforts. The cornerstone of what we do in regenerative development.
Landscape mapping information informs us about that which is driven by gravity and convection – for example water, wind funneling across the landscape, and fire. With this information we can layer other pieces of information on top of it. We can exert, interpolate or extrapolate as the process unfolds, and as more information becomes visible. The mapping and assessment information can tie things together to create a full understanding of the geophysical landscape, economics, and culture for whom we are engaging with.
Most people do not understand the value of mapping landscapes prior to development, as evidenced throughout the world. For example, the decision to build the city of New Orleans below two huge bodies of water. Or, the building of a nuclear power plant in regions with seismic activity. Or, in an interview when the developer building a huge structure in Hinche (Haiti) was asked about the continual downpour of water each afternoon. He responded by saying, "We will engineer a solution." In regenerative development, these examples are referred to as class one design errors or poor planning without using a whole systems approach.
On the micro level, landscape mapping helps us know exactly how an infrastructure should be laid out from roads to where sewage treatment locations should be located in relation to development and agriculture. It also allows us to plan for future weather related and/or natural disasters.
The most important element to evolve in our efforts is the long-term economic development of a region. One that builds self-reliance on the strengths of the people and the region. It creates many small family-owned businesses, which builds an economic base to sustain communities because the money stays in the community and is spent within the community. This long-term economic development also strengthens the region because each community becomes interdependent with the other. Hence, economic self-reliance for families is built and community and regional resiliency is formed.
Landscape mapping and the assessments we use contribute to the development of a resilient region, dictating the type of projects that consider the needs of the people from their view, and initiating projects that are cost and resource effective, appropriate, and practical.