Somewhere in the Caribbean, Natural Girl realizes she has been in a toxic relationship for too long and decides it's time for a long overdue break-up.
Conservation and sustainability of biodiversity in Cuba through the integrated watershed and coastal area management approach.
Biodiversity loss has been identified as one of the principal environment problems affecting Cuba. In light of the need to conserve these globally important natural resources, the sub-project, “Conservation and sustainability of biodiversity in Cuba through the integrated watershed and coastal area management approach,” seeks to strengthen national capacities for the integrated management of critical watersheds and coastal areas that support biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
The landscape of the country is segregated into 573 watersheds and harbours three of the most important wetlands in the entire Caribbean region. In addition to direct threats to biodiversity, these critical ecosystemsthat will be the focus of the project also face indirect threats from land and soil degradation, loss of forest cover, atmospheric, land and water pollution, compromised availability and quality of freshwater resources. Compounding this situation are the additional negative burdensthat climate change will impose. Consequently, it is national priority to reorient economic development in these target watershed areas to mainstream environmental considerations and reduce or reverse the impacts from unsustainable practices.
Cuba’s National sub-Project will implement integrated environmental management approaches, including land-use planning, good agricultural practices (GAP), better environmental practices (BEP), as well as identify and monitor environmental indicators, utilize mechanisms for strengthening cross-sectorial and inter-institutional coordination, and provide capacity-building in sub-project intervention areas. This sub-project will support the Government of Cuba develop alternative models and options for addressing a wider range of stresses affecting the biodiversity conservation within watersheds and coastal areas elsewhere in the country through up-scaling and replication.
The four sub-project intervention areas that have been selected for this sub-project are located in the western, central and eastern regions of the country and cover a combined surface area of 2,952.4 km2, or 2.69% of the land area of Cuba:
For three of the four selected watersheds: the Guanabo, Arimao and San Juan, the Cuban Government has committed that at least 136.7 km2 of existing forest cover will be protected and sustainably managed through the project. The extent of protected areas within the Agabama watershed will be identified and incorporated during the sub-project’s inception phase. For all four selected watersheds, the project will support the reforestation within impacted ecosystems over 1,690 hectares. Through on-site land and forest cover investments within 1,690 hectares over the target watershed areas, it is expected that an estimated 134,737.8 equivalent tonnes of CO2 over the life of the project, or an average of 26,947.6 tCO2eqv/year will be sequestered.
The four target watershed areas were selected through careful multi-stakeholder consultations in consideration of the approximately one million people living within them, or within their proximity in respect of the various different environmental stresses affecting each. Each site will require unique integrated approaches but will collectively provide Cuba with the experience and expertise to be able to implement a wide range of effective biodiversity conservation and sustainable land use management actions in the future within other watershed and coastal locations elsewhere in the country.
Finally, by integrating its work in the GEF focal areas of biodiversity, international waters, land degradation and the cross-cutting theme of sustainable forest management, Cuba looks to implement a comprehensive approach for sustainably managing key natural resources that in turn will contribute to the country’s sustainable economic development.
Since IWEco.Cuba was launched with the holding of the first National Workshop in November 2018 in the city of Cienfuegos, significant progress has been made. The project management team published a newsletter every quarter which provides updates on activities in all four watersheds: https://www.iweco.org/sites/default/files/2022-02/Bolet%C3%ADn%20IWEco.cuba%20Vol.%208%20%28IV%20trimestre%202021%29%20pdf.pdf
Here are some highlights of recent activities:
Please click here to download the Cuba National sub-Project Background document.
Alain Munoz - Caravaca
Centro de Estudios Ambientales de Cienfuegos (CEAC)
The biological diversity of Cuba is the greatest in the Caribbean in terms of number of floral and faunal species and endemism. It is ranked among the ten most important islands in the world in terms of biodiversity richness. Approximately 19,500 species of flora and fauna have been identified, with 8,378 of these, or 42.7%, being endemic. These consist primarily of flowering plants, insects, molluscs and arachnids. The greatest degree of endemism is among flowering plants, insects and molluscs, and amphibians and reptiles among vertebrates. Of the country’s 7,994 identified species of plants, 52.4% are endemic, and of these over 30% are threatened.
Much of this biodiversity is concentrated in the four sites addressed by the IWEco.Cuba project in the western, central and eastern regions of the country.
Scientific name: Cubophis cantherigerus (Bibron, 1840)
Photo credits: Staff of Cienfuegos Botanical Garden.
Distribution: It is one of the most abundant and widely distributed snakes in our country, it lives throughout the island of Cuba and in most of the island groups.
Brief description: Largest species of the Dipsadidae family found in Cuba. It has a grey dorsum with black spots, and the ventral color is light grey. The top of the head, behind the eyes, has a black line, similar to an “eyelash”. It is one of the few species that can be seen sunning itself on the coldest days. It hides under stones, among the tall grasses of the savannahs, in the gardens and parks of cities and towns. Its diet is very varied - it eats lizards, frogs, small chickens, rodents, bats, and even new-born sea turtles. It moves fast but does not climb trees and are not a constrictor species but mostly eat their prey alive. This species is very aggressive and may bite, especially after territorial and defensive situations facing potential predators or enemies, showing behaviour similar to that of the cobra.
Scientific name: Todus multicolor Gould, 1837.
Photo credit:Idania Garcia Castillo
Location: Arimao basin, protected area Guanaroca-Punta Gavilán, forest of the Cienfuegos province.
Brief description: The Cuban Tody is endemic to Cuba. It is found in the country's shady forests and coastal vegetation. It is small, has short wings and tail and its beak is long, straight and flattened. It presents striking colours in the plumage that go from bright green on its head and dorsal part, red on the throat to pale grey and pink on the ventral part. It constructs its nest digging tunnels in rotten wood, vertical sand or dirt gullies and small natural cavities in the limestone of cliffs or caves, where it lays between 2 and 4 white eggs. It feeds mostly on caterpillars, adult insects and their larvae, spiders and small lizards. This bird flies only short distances, emitting a peculiar sound produced by the wings, that gives rise to its common name. Human intrusion in its habitat represents a threat to its population.
Scientific name: Erythrina elenae
Photo credit: Staff of the Cienfuegos Botanical Gardens
Location: It is found at four locations in Pico San Juan, Cienfuegos; antler of Jarico and lookout of Topes de Collantes, Sancti Spíritus and in Hanabanilla, Villa Clara.
Brief description: It is a 10 m high tree, with spiny trunk and branches and reddish-brown bark. It has alternate and compound leaves. Inflorescences occur in clusters with between 15 and 20 red flowers. It is usually found on the edges of limestone cliffs. This plant is endemic to the semi-deciduous forests (mesophyllous and microphyllous) of the mountains of Guamuhaya in the central region of Cuba. This species is Critically Endangered (CR) due to the low number of individuals in its populations, geographic isolation and the deterioration of its habitat due to felling of trees and invasive species. Their populations are found in protected areas with different management categories, but there is no integrated management program for the species. At present, attempts are being made to reproduce it by seed in the Topes de Collantes protected area and it is cultivated ex situ in the Cienfuegos Botanical Gardens.
Scientific name: Juglans jamaicensis C. DC.
Photo credit: Staff of the Cienfuegos Botanical Gardens
Location: Arimao basin, Cienfuegos, Cuba.
Brief description: Deciduous tree 20-25 m tall. Trunk with ribbed and wrinkled bark, dark brown in color; young branches reddish to brown. It has alternate leaves with serrated margins and undersides with brownish-red hairs towards the veins. The inflorescence and flowers usually have brown-reddish hairs and flowers grow in pairs. This tree is a Cuban native species, inhabits semi-deciduous forest (mesophyllous) that develop up to 900 m above-sea-level. It usually lives near running water bodies (rivers, streams), mostly on basic soils. The species is Critically Endangered (CR) due to the decrease in the quality of its habitat because of cattle raising and the felling of forests, as well as the extraction of its wood for cabinetmaking. This species is registered in the red list of vascular flora and among the 50 most threatened plants in Cuba. It is also found in some protected areas such as Hanabanilla, in Villa Clara province.
Scientific name: Anolis guamuhaya
Photo credit: Staff of the Cienfuegos Botanical Gardens
Location: Arimao basin, Carlota mine, Cienfuegos, between Jibacoa and Topes de
Collantes, Villa Clara province, Guamuhaya Massif, Cuba.
Brief description: This species is easily recognized by its greenish-grey body coloration and scales on the edge of the gular fold that are less elongated compared to the rest of the lizards of this group. It is endemic to the Guamuhaya massif. It inhabits the trunks and branches of trees in the submontane mesophyllous evergreen forest, between 500 to 900 meters above-sea-level. It has been found at heights above the ground between 2 to 6m, always in shaded places. It feeds mostly on large insects, molluscs, flowers and fruits. The Escambray bearded anole is classified as an Endangered Species (EN) according to The Red Book of Vertebrates of Cuba (González et al., 2012). The main threat to its population is habitat fragmentation due to deforestation, in a very small geographical and ecological area, due to forestry development, tourism and the negative impact of human expansion.