ABE is International: North and South America

November 20, 2018

Quantifying the Benefits of Reforestation in Haiti

ABE Assistant Professor Dr. Young Gu Her and M.S. Student Redjino Mompremier

Deforestation and subsequent soil erosion are one of the most critical environmental and agricultural problems in Haiti. Although the deforestation issue and its consequences are well-known, sometimes it is not clear to the lay public and decision makers what kinds of direct benefits they can get from planting trees, which prevents them from actively participating in reforestation and conservation efforts. M.S. student Redjino Mompremier and his advisor, Dr. Young Gu Her, a hydrologist and agricultural engineer, are working together to demonstrate the effects of reforestation on agriculture and water resources in Haiti.

They have been monitoring streamflow and sediment coming from a mountainous area suffering deforestation. They are also preparing mathematical models to simulate water and sediment transport processes occurring in upstream areas and dry bean growth affected by the amount of water delivered to downstream agricultural areas. The monitoring and modeling activities will allow them to explore many different watershed and crop management scenarios and quantify the benefits of reforestation.

Weather Index Insurance Help Small Growers in Paraguay Mitigate Climate Risk

ABE Professor Dr. Clyde Fraisse

Climate plays an important role in the production risks that farmers face. Adverse climate conditions can set the stage for crop failures associated with either a lack or an excess of rainfall as well as the incidence of pests and diseases. Small growers in Paraguay remember the drought of 2011 to 2012, which caused the Paraguayan government to declare a state of food security emergency in January of 2012.

Crop insurance is one of the risk management tools available to farmers to cover crop losses caused by adverse weather. An alternative to traditional insurance products is index-based insurance, which removes some of the high costs of traditional insurance by estimating yield losses rather than requiring field visits to directly measure yield on individual farms. To help small growers in Paraguay mitigate risk associated with drought Dr. Clyde Fraisse, Professor of Agrometeorology in the UF/IFAS Agricultural and Biological Engineering department, developed a weather-based index that quantifies plant water stress on a daily basis and is significantly more effective to represent crop losses due to drought than indices that rely only on rainfall.

Determining Environmental Degradation in Costa Rica

ABE Professor Rafael Muñoz-Carpena

The Palo Verde National Park in Costa Rica has changed from the wetlands that flooded regularly with thousands of waterfowl of thirty years ago to today with invasive cattail plants coverage and a dramatically fallen number of birds. This may be due to the dams that were built in the 1970’s. This dam was built to collect water in order to generate hydroelectric power.

ABE’s Dr. Rafael Muñoz-Carpena and his research team are conducting environmental studies of the wetlands in hopes of determining the effects of the dams and how to reverse the damage.

Due to a lack of historical data, it is difficult to sort through the interconnected factors to determine the cause of the environmental degradation. The largest factors to consider for this situation are the degradation causes, human-systems impact, and how the human and natural systems are linked.

With the help of local partners, Dr. Muñoz-Carpena and his team have been able to gather information for a collection of non-systematic studies. The team also uses remote sensing sources for time-series data for land-use and vegetation change. The goal is to build an overlap of previous data along with the new data sources collected by the team to give a detailed overview of the situation.

Doctoral Studies in the Tempisque-Bebedero Basin, Guanacaste - Costa Rica

Ph.D. Student Marco Pazmiño-Hernandez

As part of the UF Water Institute Fellows program, Marco Pazmiño-Hernandez is doing research on wetlands of international importance for migratory bird species. His research is focused in the Palo Verde wetland which is located in the Northwest region of Costa Rica. This wetland ecosystem has suffered a severe ecological shift due to the implementation of a hydropower plant for energy production and the implementation of an irrigation canal district for food security. During his studies, Marco aims to analyze the changes in water dynamics through a rainfall-runoff hydrological model of the two main basins that discharge and shape the Palo Verde wetland. Also, Marco will be looking for the minimal environmental flows of the wetland in order for there to exist a healthy ecosystem for the migratory bird species that stopover in this area during their migratory paths from South America to North America.

A Summer Visit to the Tempisque-Bebedero and Palo Verde

Associate Professor Dr. Rachata Muneepeerakul and Ph.D. Student Kathleen Vazquez

Students and faculty from ABE, Anthropology, Geography, and Environmental Engineering departments went to Costa Rica this summer to visit the Tempisque-Bebedera watershed and the Palo Verde wetland as part of the UF Water Institute Graduate Fellowships (WIGF) project, “Inducing Resilience for Water-Subsidized Systems.” 

The purpose of this trip was to introduce the student cohort to the area of study and participate in the international environmental policy course hosted by UF Law.  UF Law has been hosting the environmental law and policy class there for 18 years. On this trip, the class helped the WIGF cohort develop a more thorough understanding of law and policy within Costa Rica’s Tempisque-Bebedero basin through group projects and multiple site visits.

Through this trip, the cohort got to experience the area, interact with stakeholders and learn more about environmental policy and law. The students participated in a scenario planning workshop with stakeholders from the Tempisque-Bebedero basin. Though the faculty were only there a few days, the students immersed themselves in the system for more than a month—two trips to Palo Verde National Park, a tour of a coffee co-op, a trip to the cloud forest, a guided hike to see the endangered quetzal, a tour of a fishing village that established community fishing rights, a visit to the Savegre River (an undammed river), a visit to the Arenal dam, a tour of an hydropower facility, a scenario planning workshop with stakeholders, and classes and group work with UF law students.


Dr. Young Gu Her and master's student Redjino Mompremier stands beside a water level sensor and leveling staff at a stream that they installed..

Dr. Young Gu Her and master's student Redjino Mompremier installs a water level sensor and leveling staff at a stream.

Dr. Young Gu Her wading in a river to measure the velocity of flow.

Dr. Young Gu Her measuring the velocity of flow.

Master's student Redjino Mompremier using analysis tools to measure sediment amount in a water sample.

Master's student Redjino Mompremier measuring the amount of sediment in a water sample.


Dr. Clyde Fraisse developed a weather-based index that quantifies plant water stress on a daily basis to help small growers in Paraguay mitigate risk associated with drought.

Dr. Clyde Fraisse's weather-based index is significantly more effective to represent crop losses due to drought than indices that rely only on rainfall.

Costa Rica