Lomas de Fomento is one of over 103 protected areas on the island. Photo: Vicente Brito

Cuba is implementing an action plan through 2020 geared toward strengthening the country’s National System of Protected Areas, with work focused on incorporating efforts to promote sustainable development, and implementing disaster and climate change risk-management measures, to reduce the impact of these phenomena on protected areas.  
These actions were announced on the first day of the Fifth Protected Areas Congress - being held in the context of the 11th International Convention on Environment and Development, which began July 3 in Havana - with the participation of Julia Miranda, vice president of the World Commission on Protected Areas.
Speaking with Granma, Dr. José Luis Corvea, deputy director of the National Center for Protected Areas (CNAP), noted that to date, a total of 211 such areas have been identified across the country - 103 of which were approved by the Council of Ministers Executive Committee, while another 16 are currently being reviewed.
Protected areas make up approximately 20.2% of Cuba’s total territory, including zones in the marine shelf surrounding the island. Meanwhile, 120 are managed by the National Enterprise for the Protection of Flora and Fauna (responsible for 60% of zones), and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, among other entities.
Several of the country’s protected areas are recognized internationally, such as the Alejandro de Humboldt and Desembarco del Granma national parks, both declared World Natural Heritage Sites; as well as the Guanahacabibes, Buenavista, Baconao and Cuchillas del Toa biosphere reserves.
According to Dr. Corvea, the greatest problems affecting such areas are illegal logging, poaching, and fishing, as well as threats from the use of chemical products in neighboring agricultural zones.
Designed to strengthen conservation efforts and the sustainable use of the environment and its historical, cultural and aesthetic values, protected areas are home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, with levels of endemism exceeding 85 and 90%, respectively.