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June 15, 2016

MEXICO-CUBA COLLABORATING FOR CONSERVATION

By Sofia Goméz
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Photo by Claudio Contreras, Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park

Since 2015, WILDCOAST has been in the process of expanding our conservation efforts towards Cuba. Because of its rich and pristine coastal ecosystems, like coral reefs and mangrove forests, Cuba has a higher degree of conservation compared to other places in the Caribbean Sea and has been an example of successful conservation worldwide. From May 22nd to the 27th of this year we had the opportunity to show Baja California Sur’s natural protected areas to three representatives from the National System of Protected Areas of Cuba (SNAP).  SNAP staff, Lázaro Márquez, Dorka Cobián and Susana Pereraque, are dedicated to the conservation of the Guanahacabibes National Park and Biosphere Reserve of the same name. Our guests had the opportunity to visit some of the most emblematic natural protected areas that Mexico has to offer:

 

  1. The Cabo Pulmo National Park. Here we had the opportunity to talk with other organizations, including eco-tourism services, park staff and community members, about the conservation story of Cabo Pulmo and how the collaboration between sectors has been crucial for its success. During our visit we enjoyed Cabo Pulmo’s famous reef through snorkeling and diving, as well as its beautiful beaches and important sea turtle nesting areas. We also learned about Cabo Pulmo’s developing participatory process for “Public Use” which defines the best tourism practices for coastal ecosystems of the Cabo Pulmo’s National Park.

 

  1. The Biosphere Reserve Sierra La Laguna. We were in the community of Santiago, where local staff shared their knowledge on the Reserve and offered us a nature walk to experience it first-hand. Staff talked about its plan for public use and what defines for them the best practices for camping in the forest of the Sierra.

 

  1. The Cabo San Lucas Flora and Fauna Protection Area. We toured around this area in a boat powered by solar and wind energy. During our tour we discussed visitor management and the arrival of large cruise ships. This was particularly important to our Cuban visitors because in Cuba they are starting to experience a similar situation and they are interested in learning more about how to handle large cruise ships and crowds. We also held a workshop on climate change adaptation in protected areas which was given by the General Director for Climate Change Strategies of CONANP. 

 

This exchange of experiences with our Cuban counterparts proved to be a rich learning experience. WILDCOAST will continue its efforts to conserve coastal and marine ecosystems by supporting our Cuban partners with issues such as visitor management of marine protected areas and climate change. As an example of the support we will:

  • Provide the Guanahacabibes National Park with graphic materials that will help disseminate good diving and snorkeling practices.
  • Installe buoys to reduce the negative impact on coral during boat anchoring, and
  • Help organize a conference between Mexico’s Commission of Natural Protected Areas CONANP and the Cuban National System of Protected Areas (SNAP) to share effective strategies for climate change adaptation in marine protected areas in Cuba and Mexico. 
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