La Selle

La Selle is Haiti’s first biosphere reserve. The area includes a large number of different ecosystems and protected areas like La Visite which is one of the most important biodiversity sites of the country, and the forest reserve Forêt-des-pins, Haiti’s biggest pine reserve dominated by the endemic pine specie Pinus occidentalis.  Important cultural and architectural traditions are preserved in the historic city of Jacmel which is partially included in the biosphere reserve.

Declaration Date: 2012
Administrative authorities: Ministry of Environment
Surface Area: 377, 221 ha (land 360,434 ha; marine 16,787 ha)
Core area: 52, 579 ha
Buffer zone: 66,116 ha
Transition areas: 258,526 ha (land 241,739 ha; marine 16,787 ha)

Latitude: 18° 1'3.43"N - 18°42'14.88"N
Longitude: 71°41'57.54"W - 72°28'20.70"W
Central point: 18°21'10.74"N - 72° 2'55.91"W

Ecological Characteristics

© Dieufort Deslorges
Cascade Pichon

The biosphere reserve is located in the Massif de la Selle, containing Haiti’s highest peak 'Pic la Selle' (2684 m) and the second most biodiverse region of the country after the Massif de la Hotte. These two mountain ranges form the southern peninsula of the island of Hispaniola, known for its high level of endemism. Most of the endemic species are flowering plants of which 16% are endemic to this region.

The area has 22 species of amphibians and 41 species of reptiles, from which two are endemic to the Massif de la Selle.

The area has a great diversity of landscapes and ecosystems: it includes rainforests, mountain pine forests, deciduous forests and high-altitude dry forests. The coastal landscape is dominated by marine coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, lagoons, estuaries and deltas.

From a geological point of view, the area has a wide variety of igneous and sedimentary rocks dating to the late Jurassic (140 million years).

Socio-Economic Characteristics

© Dieufort Deslorges
Four percent of the Haitian population lives in the biosphere reserve one of the main economic activities is fishery

The area is home to nearly 4% of the country's population, or about 380,000 people, of which about 68% is in the transition zone. Communities living within or near the area of the reserve, practice several economic activities related to agro-forestry, fisheries, tourism, recreation and leisure, and crafts.

The reserve has important cultural, historical, political, social and religious values. The district of Jacmel, the major city of the South-East department, part of which is located in the reserve has important cultural and historical sites. The historic center of Jacmel still retains "all urban and architectural consistency" dating from colonial times.

The South-East department is also known for its handicrafts, art, architecture, music, and carnaval that are deeply rooted in the rich tradition of the area.

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                                                                                   Last updated in June 2016

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