Guanahacabibes, Inspiring Young People to Protect Biosphere
By: Ana Laura Arbesú, Photos: Prensa Latina
Almost thirty years after its inauguration, the Guanacahabibes Peninsula biosphere reserve showcases Cuba’s endemic wildlife and also offers ways to conserve it.
Located in the Island’s most western zone in the province of Pinar del Río the zone supports species of flora and fauna that experts are continuously trying to record and track.
This species protection work monopolizes the attention of scientific institutions and international organizations intent on augmenting their experience but may actually also rank as one of the primary challenges facing the area.
This is the reason why a team of Cuban specialists in its management and care attended the recent IV World Biosphere Reserve Congress in the Peruvian capital of Lima.
Zone coordinator, Lázaro Márquez, told Cuba- Plus that the team went to share the methods they apply in the area, especially regarding the participation of young people in species conservation work.
He said that one of the challenges arising from the Lima Congress is the development of a 10- year global plan for the protection of these sites, in compliance with UN sustainable development goals.
For the expert, who could well be described as a founder of the Reserve since its designation in 1987, one of its principal attractions are the sea turtles, which are also perhaps most the vulnerable to predators.
Márquez said, “poaching has taken a considerable toll, but we have put into place environmental conservation plans that involve all the surrounding communities.” He explained how the project has achieved the “miracle” of converting some former poachers into people who now have a conscience and are involved in turtle care and protection.
Young people are particularly integrated into the diverse range of programs designed for all educational levels, from primary to pre-university.
They participate in educational talks and even in the monitoring work that involves the tracking of these animals from the moment nesting commences.
He explained that this is exhausting work involving tough days, but that it has contributed to the formation of consciences.
The expert said that turtle monitoring also attracted tourists, many of whom came to learn how to raise and conserve them.
Márquez added that the number of visitors interested in conservation was on the rise and that eco-tourists were attracted not only by the turtles, but also by bird life—the reserve is home to more than 150 species including 45 types of migratory birds and many endemic species.