Cuba´s Biological Diversity Program and action plan, in the process of being updated for the 2015-2020 period, aims to stop national biodiversity losses through sustainable options and the implementation of conservation measures. Experts are confident that a document outlining the way forward could be drafted by identifying and establishing courses of action consistent with the national political, social, and economic guidelines, as well as with the Economy Plan and development strategies for the implementation of international environmental commitments.
At a program presentation, in which researchers, various departmental officials, the university, and scientific community representatives participated, Lourdes Coya, of the Environmental Management Department, explained that, for this end, the parties have identified 18 goals which have the potential of being accomplished with in the five year period.
This way, Cuba can establish commitments aimed at eliminating or minimizing soil degradation, impacts on forestry coverage, ecosystem losses or contamination, and maintaining and protecting endemic species, among others. Coya added that the document analyzes the political instrument and environmental management, while prioritizing an enhancement of implementation methods. It also incorporates indicators to monitor progress. The draft program also proposes the integration of a range of projects and action plans that presently address environmental issues and advocate for the inclusion of diverse working groups and commissions in order to set up a common platform.
Environmental Director for the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment, Dr. Odalys Goicochea, recalled that the Biological Diversity Strategy and Action Plan provided a framework for the integration of conservation actions and sustainable use of biodiversity on the island.
She said that her work had identified prioritary issues that require further research and that should be specifically mentioned in the updated plan as well as in national development policies and strategies. Her work also includes studies on the economic valuation of ecosystems. Goicochea commented that biodiversity forms part of the national wealth while also being a natural heritage that guarantees food sovereignty and security.
Protected areas in Cuba
Statistics indicate that protected areas account for about 20 percent of Cuban national territory, including Biosphere Reserves, and National Parks which possess very high indicators of national biodiversity value and encompass very large sways of surface area.
According to the National Center for Protected Areas (NCPA), Sierra del Rosario, a mountainous land mass in western Cuba, became the country’s first Biosphere Reserve in 1985. It was followed by the Guanahacabibes Peninsula, also in the province of Pinar del Río, Cuchillos del Toa, in the provinces of Guantánamo and Holguín, and Baconao, in the provinces of Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo. Also on the list are Buena Vista, spanning the provinces of Villa Clara, Sancti Spíritus and Ciego de Ávila, and the swamplands of the Ciénaga de Zapata in the province of Matanzas.
NCPA director Maritza García said that the experts are working on a project that, once approved, will make Sierra de los Órganos, in the Guaniguanico mountain range, Cuba’s seventh Biosphere Reserve.
She commented that the site possessed all necessary requirements for approval due to its biological diversity, its sustainable ecological practices for the protection of natural resources, and a community that promotes sustainable growth.