Cuba - Nature and Wildlife
Within Cuba, some 400 species of birds have been recorded. Of these, approximately 21 are endemic to the country. A further 59 mammal species have been documented in Cuba including marine species, bats and much more. Regarding flora, of the 6,700 plant varieties in the country, 74 of them are endemic. In order to protect the country’s nature and wildlife, Cuba has designated eight national parks, while UNESCO has named six Biosphere Reserves in the country.
Cuchillas del Toa was named a Biosphere Reserve in 1987. Located mostly in the Guantánamo Province on the eastern part of the country the Cuchillas del Toa reserve is known for its rainforest. This rainforest has remained relatively untouched by humans, one of the last remaining in the world. It provides a habitat for some of Cuba’s most endangered species.
Zapata Cíenaga Biosphere Reserve is located less than 150 km (93 mi) from Havana and hosts one of Cuba’s most diverse ecosystems. One of the largest protected areas in the Caribbean and the largest wetlands in the Caribbean, it was designated by UNESCO in 2001 as a reserve and has also been listed as a “Wetland of International Importance”.
Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve was the first reserve in the country, designated by UNESCO in 1985. It encapsulates the mountain range in the provinces of Pinar del Rio and Artemisia. There are over 8,000 plant species found in the reserve’s tropical forests, 35% of which are endemic.
Peninsula de Guanahacabibes Biosphere Reserve was established in 1987 and covers 121,572 hectares. Located on the westernmost part of Cuba, the reserve also hosts Guanahacabibes National Park. This area of the country is sparsely populated with landscapes including mangroves, coastal scrublands, forests and more. Over 100 lakes exist on the peninsula and the coast houses coral reefs.
Baconao Biosphere Reserve was established in 1987 and also hosts a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Sierra Maestra mountain range is part of the reserve with over 1,800 plant species and over 900 indigenous wildlife species.
Finally, Buenavista Biosphere Reserve, located on Cuba’s northern Atlantic shore provides habitats for several aquatic birds due to the mangroves and corals reefs found there. There are eleven core areas in the reserve including two national parks: Caguanes and Santa Maria Key. It was designated by UNESCO in 2001.
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