With the Ayiti Tomas 2009 expedition we begin a program of study of the caves of Haiti. This will be followed by a second expedition in May 2010.
In view of the large karstic surface of its territory, speleology is a discipline with a future and with multiple benefits for Haiti.
As in all countries, the karstic zones, because of their tormented relief, are particularly isolated. Access roads are difficult and these regions often lag behind. Speleology may constitute an asset for their development.
As a strong movement of roots-searching is being carried out in Haiti, finding elements from the country’s history and prehistory helps to strengthen a national identity. Remnants from the Taino indiens, the African slaves or from the first colonists are important pieces of information from this standpoint.
After the troubled times Haiti has known these past decades, the country is looking for sources of development. Tourism is being explored and national parks have been constituted. Cave development is an additional asset to these parks attraction, making possible the development of cultural tourism.
- Training of guides
We will strive to train interested Haitians in speleology so that they will be able, once their skills have been acknowledged, to participate independently in the exploration of the caves of Haiti. They will also be able to guide groups of amateur spelunkers and thus contribute to the development of adventure tourism.
Tropical caves are known to shelter big colonies of bats. Some caves are therefore real mines of guano, the excrement of bats, which constitutes an excellent fertilizer, easily accessible to local farmers. Several industrial exploitations of guano functioned in Haiti a few decades ago.
- Water resources
Haiti having a karst landscape, water flows little on surface and rapidly enters the ground. Thus water can accummulate in subterranean reservoirs that can be better known through speleological exploration.
- Prevention of flooding
Deadly flooding has multiplied these past years in Haiti. During big rains, the mountainous karstic terrain soaks up subterranean water and a flushing phenomenon can take place giving rise to torrential flooding. Knowing better the subterranean course of waters allows to be better prepared against those risks.
The scientific issues are numerous in such fields as archeology, geology, biology...
Many of these prospects interpenetrate each other and depending on the importance or the specificities of the discovered caves, appropriate recommendations will be made.