The Guamuhaya mountains recover the deep richness of their forests. Slowly, the damage caused by man’s action begins to reverse itself; that is what Cienfuegos experts say.
During the last five years, specialists from all over Cuba have worked on the project intended to conserve threatened mountain ecosystems, or called Proyecto Conectando Paisajes (Connecting Landscapes project).
Financed by the Global Environment Fund (GEF) through the implementing agency of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the initiative extends to four mountain areas of the Cuban geography: Guaniguanico, Guamuhaya, Bamburanao, and Nipe-Sagua-Baracoa.
Cienfuegos environmental authorities are in charge of the intervention in the portion of the Gumuahaya Massif belonging to the province’s territory.
In the waters of the Cabagan River, one of the few that goes down from the Guamuhaya Mountainous massif to the Caribbean Sea between the cities of Cienfuegos and Trinidad, local observers and national scientific institutions found evidence of some recovery.
The coordinator of the project in Cienfuegos, Rebeca Vanegas, assures that “in the first monitoring, in 2018, the Cabagan river water quality was quite altered; in the last, which we did this year, an improvement in quality could be observed in the waters.
“The divisions that natural spaces have are rivers and other bodies of water. According to the level of pollution, water can tell if the management of the ecosystems and the basin in general is going well or wrong; due to sedimentation, due to the amount of fertilizers and chemicals used in agriculture and for multiple other causes ”, explains the specialist.
Due to its natural capacity to collect runoff from the river basin of the same name, the Cabagan river has revealed that environmental management upstream has begun to change. “As part of the project, we pay attention to coffee-producing farms and integral forestry farms.
We have located certain equipment in these sites «, says the coordinator of» Connecting Landscapes «for the territory of Cienfuegos.
Vanegas adds that, as a strategy, “we are never going to eliminate these productive units because they are necessary for the country’s economy; so if we guide them so that they have more favorable management styles with the environment and natural resources such as water and soil, ecosystems and the environment in general are favored ”.In these units, some of the main actions prioritize the protection of soils and the recovery of native forest species of the mountainous area.
Until today, the recovery of highly threatened native trees has been achieved, such as walnut trees of the country, oak, jurabaina, yamagua (Gaurea Guidonia) chicharron (Terminalia Eriostachya), thorny pine nut, mamoncillo (Melicoccus bijugatus), sapote culebra(Pouteria dominigensis), and jagua (Genipa Americana).
“So far, ten threatened native species have been introduced as coffee shade. This responds to a provincial project led by Cienfuegos Botanical Garden, called Endangered Flora which works along with ours”, the expert points out.
“When we started the project we had a baseline of 109 walnut trees in the country in the mountains. Today we have 246 planted. “For example, in the coffee seed bank, at Mayari mountain settlement, where these species had been lost, about 50 have been planted.
That for us is a significant result; in addition, it has a very high survival rate. «Due to its location and conditions, we chose it to establish the environmental education classroom for the Cienfuegos mountain there,» says the CITMA representative.
We want it to function as a network, because it has an agreement with the seed bank for the preparation of students, but the administrative structure of the Martin Infierno cave protected area is also close by, and we also have the Pico San Juan protected area a little higher up «.
The Armando Mestre Martínez School trains young people in the specialty of Agronomy. «We have the student more integrated into environmental programs and what the country is asking for today,» concludes the specialist.
The main environmental problems that Cuba currently faces have their origin and to a great extent their dimension, in the inappropriate ways in which its natural resources have been exploited; the limitations and insufficiencies faced by the industrialization process and the inadequate agricultural and livestock production.
Experts from the provinces of Cienfuegos, Villa Clara and Sancti Spiritus, who are involved in the Connecting Landscapes project, have already presented to the authorities of these territories a proposal for the territorial and environmental planning of the Guamuhaya mountain range.
The final step of this initiative, which seeks the conservation of ecosystems, the protection of biodiversity and natural resources in general, points towards the creation of a biological shelter between the protected areas Pico San Juan and Topes de Collantes.
This experimental segment is located in Cienfuegos territory. “This pilot corridor would include the Centro Cubano, Charco Azul, Plan Semilla, Cien Rosas, Cuatro Vientos settlements because precisely there, we have already purchased an ecological pulper installed in the Coffee Pulping Company in this community by the project.
This is another result and a very important one, because it reduces the consumption of water and electricity, at the same time that it almost totally reduces the emission of liquid waste”, the expert says.
Biological corridors are an experience applied worldwide to protect areas of great natural value. The one at Pico San Juan-Topes de Collantes, would be the first of its kind in Cuba and would allow the application of environmental protection policies and management strategies for threatened species, under the legal protection of a legislative body.
Guamuhaya, the name of this mountainous massif is derived from Arawak, the language of the first inhabitants of Cuba; means source or birth.
If it fulfills its objectives, the Connecting Landscapes project would contribute to the return to the original values of that meaning, and the mountains of Guamuhaya will once again be the source or birth of life in south central Cuba.
(Translated by Yeney Perez Corona, from 5 de Septiembre Newspaper)