Winnie Attie, a lifelong resident of Haiti and owner of the Auberge Inn, which is on top of one of the highest mountains in Seguin, Parc La Visite, Haiti. This is also listed in Lonely Planet Travel Guide. The Auberge Inn is also where Vermont Institute of Natural Science conducted decades of research for reports on the biodiversity and ecosystem for the United Nations and USAID. Winnie is a founding member of Fondation Seguin which was featured in the 2005 PBS documentary "Unfinished Country" by Bill Moyers, Wide Angle. Winnie has joined Trees4Haiti as Vice President and as head of on the ground operations in Haiti.
"I had always heard stories about Seguin since childhood. One day I asked my Dad if he still had his property in Seguin, and if he did could we go visit the site.
When my father realized that I was interested in Seguin he bought a 4x4 vehicle and made preparations to take a trip to the mountains.
First, he went to the authorities to claim his titles and his land ownership documents, which were established since 1959 officially, but my Dad actually made his first trip in 1954, the year of my birth.
We started the voyage from Petionville and took the old but only existing road to Jacmel, the coastal capital of the southeast department. We slept in a hotel in the city of Jacmel and the next day we drove to Marigot, the last village at the feet of the mountain, the LaSelle range. From there, we started to ascend the difficult rocky road and four hours later we were in Seguin and on our land. I was astounded by the beauty of the place. The high plateau of Haiti with one of the last remaining pine forest was paradise. We stayed in a little house belonging to a local friend and rested from the difficult trip.
The next day I explored the area and the forest and I knew at once that this was the place I wanted as my future home. After two days we came back to Petionville and I started planning my next trip to Seguin but this time I was going to hike on the other side going from Petionville to Kenscoff and take the trail up from there.
The scenery on my way up and the joy of discovering such lush nature enchanted me, and when I reached the top of the trail I was engulfed into that beautiful pine forest mixed with a dense broadleaf vegetation, it reminds me of Switzerland very much and I crossed the rushing and clear water of the rivière blanche, I felt definitely in the prealps of Switzerland. There was a sawmill operation in the area and it saddened me. There were not so many people at the time and the nature was still pristine and alive. I knew that I had to rally people to trigger a national alert on the environmental situation. I decided to live there and start from scratch. I worked the land for many years and raised sheeps for a living and became Seguin's ambassador to the world at large. I made everyone aware of the place and the need to preserve it. The peasants farming the land were looking for subsistence and at the same time causing the total destruction of the ecosystems, to practice agriculture. They were a force to reckon with and there was no law enforcement to really monitor the situation. I decided it was time to rally the young and educated from the elite to form a team to deal with the situation as I as an individual was already hosting people from the scientific world who were interested to study the area and help with creating a natural National Park. The La Visite National Park. Fondation Seguin was officially created in 2004.
We had a green school, a program to take school kids from various institutions in the cities and have them hike up on discovery weekends where they learned about nature and nature conservation and also mixed with local school kids during their stay. One day was dedicated to planting trees in the Park and another day to visit the area. This endeavor had much success. The big problem was that the state and the government were not present to really help us enforce watershed protection and fight fraudulent squatting. More and more people were invading the plateau and the forest was beginning to be badly damaged and the bird's habitat becoming endangered.
We did a lot of erosion control projects and reforestation and we currently have the biggest nursery in such high altitudes. We are at six thousand feet and plus. My good friend Chris Rimers of the Vermont institute of Natural Science made many trips to Seguin and tried his best to convince the Haitian officials about the urgency of the problem, but to no avail. The whole forest is currently being colonized by locals. We are now implementing sustainable programs that aim at educating the locals and help them assure financial stability. We are implementing a sustainable economic development and environmental reforestation project that will employ tens of thousands of people in the area".
P.O. Box 675 Plaistow, New Hampshire 03865 USA
2023 TREES4HAITI is a registered 501(c)(3) organization
Founders: Dennis M., Winthrop A., Joe S., Geno B., Matt M.
TM 2023 Photos