Photo: Wendy Pedroso Martínez

Cuba’s forest area grew by 57,000 hectares in 2016. As such, the island reached a total of 3,241,000 hectares of land covered by forests, representing 31.15% of its total land area.

According to Luis Manuel Gómez Pérez, specialist at the forestry department of the Ministry of Agriculture (Minag), areas covered by forests currently represent 79.1% of the island’s historic woodland coverage (4,093,000 hectares).

The rest, he explained, is occupied by new plantations (95,000 hectares), deforested areas (244,000 hectares) and 514,000 hectares with no woodland.

Among the achievements of the island in this regard, Gómez Pérez noted that today, 78.4 million tons of carbon dioxide are removed from the atmosphere each year, thanks to this forest cover.

Speaking during a press conference, Gómez Pérez explained that in addition, through Decree 300/2012, land has been provided in usufruct for forestry development to 1,076 individuals and 14 legal entities, representing a total area of 12,829 hectares.

Regarding the reforestation of watersheds of national interest, he stated that these areas now have a forest area of 31.5%.

As for the volumes of wood extracted through logging, treatments, forest reconstruction and thinning, he noted that a total of 132,972 cubic meters of sawn timber were obtained, in addition to 146,604 cubic meters of roundwood, and more than eight million sticks used for curing tobacco.

Meanwhile, Oscar Labrador Llanes, Minag director of forestry, flora and fauna, explained that the sector priorities are directed toward the reforestation of the 11 watersheds which, given their importance, have been declared of national interest; while paying attention to the more than 600 of these areas in the country that are greater than one square kilometer.

Major efforts are also focused on the protection of mangroves, which occupy 5% of the national territory, he highlighted.

Also announced during the press conference was the decision to host this year’s activities to mark Forestry Workers’ Day (June 21) at the Sancti Spíritus Agroforestry Enterprise; while the final event will be held at the UEB Agroforestal Silvícola in the municipality of Trinidad.