Just 90 miles south of the Florida Keys, where the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico meet, Cuba contains about 36 percent of the coral reefs in the Caribbean islands and maintains the largest mangrove forest in the region. Ocean connectivity studies conducted by The Nature Conservancy and partners have shown that Cuba's coastal waters are vital to thriving fisheries and fishing communities in the Gulf of Mexico, along the southeastern coast of the United States and in the Eastern Caribbean.
Cuba has a longstanding commitment to conservation and currently about 25 percent of its marine environment is protected within the national marine protected areas (MPAs) network. However, while Cuba is a regional leader in marine and coastal protection, these habitats are under increasing threats from rising tourism and development and the impacts of climate change. The Conservancy has been working in Cuba for over 20 years, collaborating with the Cuban government and other partners to preserve the country’s unique marine and terrestrial biodiversity.
In partnership with Cuba’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, the Conservancy offers training in Geographic Information Systems and other technology that helps government conservation staff and marine area managers make better-informed decisions and more effectively manage MPAs. The Conservancy also recently completed a capacity-building plan that supports our Cuban partners as they develop ecosystem-based, adaptive conservation strategies. These strategies emphasize the protection and restoration of key marine and coastal ecosystems to build resilience against climate change and other environmental threats.
As part of this focus on ecosystem-based adaptation, we are working with Cuban partners to protect and restore the country’s iconic coral reefs. The Conservancy is working on a restoration and monitoring plan to provide on-the-ground guidance as Cuba expands its coral nurseries, while putting conservation strategies into action to promote long-term coral reef recovery. As we make strides with our partners to conserve marine and coastal habitats that will strengthen coastlines and support economies today and in the future, we aim to foster resilient communities and help people and nature thrive together in Cuba.
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