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August 09, 2017

Conserving the Coral Reefs, Mangroves and MPAs of Cuba

By Eduardo Najera, COSTASALVAJE Director.
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Christian Vizl

After two short years of working on the ground in Cuba, WILDCOAST has made great strides in the name of conservation for the island’s most critical marine ecosystems. WILDCOAST travelled to Cuba’s capital, Havana, in July to participate in the XI International Convention on Environment and Development (CUBAMBIENTE) and to share some of our exciting achievements.

WILDCOAST’s Director of Mexico, Eduardo Nájera presented our work from the last two years to a diverse and distinguished audience during the convention. A few of these accomplishments included:

  • Photographic exhibits – WILDCOAST helped arrange two public photographic exhibits, the first "Treasures of the Mexican Conservation" at the House of Diversity in Old Havana in 2015 and the second, "Manglar Vivo" in the museum of the Royal Force of the Historic Center of Old Havana in 2017.
  • Coral reef management best practices – WILDCOAST created and distributed 4,000 educational dive guides to visitors of the Guanahacabibes National Park. The guides included important diving rules, species identification and a map of the marine protected area. We also provide on-site training on “Good Practices for Coral Reef Observation” for diving guides at the María la Gorda diving center.
  • Collaborative partnerships – WILDCOAST arranged for two exchange trips for members of Cuba’s National Center for Protected Areas (CNAP) in Mexico. CNAP staff visited Cabo Pulmo National Park to learn firsthand how about successful MPA management. Another trip to Mexico City provided Cuban conservation officials the opportunity to learn the process for developing a national strategy for climate change adaptation. 

The convention also provided a basis for formalizing an information exchange for coral reef conservation and management best practices between protected area authorities in Mexico, Cuba and with WILDCOAST. This exchange will be the first agreement of collaboration that has ever been signed between a Mexican NGO and the Cuban government.

Additionally, Dr. Maritza García, the president of Cuba’s Environmental Agency recognized WILDCOAST’s cross-collaborative approach to conservation and publicly announced her commitment to continuing to partner with WILDCOAST on issues of climate change and marine protected area management in an international framework. Further Dr. García applauded WILDCOAST for bringing international recognition to Cuba’s conservation work to save its idyllic marine resources through the Por el Planeta television series that aired in June and seen by more than 30 million households.