The Cuchillas del Toa Biosphere Reserve is located in the northeastern region of Cuba and covers the mountain region of Sagua-Garacoa in the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park. Cuchillas del Toa is considered as one of the principal centers of biodiversity and endemism in Cuba.
The Cuchillas del Toa Biosphere Reserve is located within the Greater Antilles, in the northeastern region of Cuba and covers the mountain region of Sagua-Garacoa in the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park. It extends along 208,305 ha (514,732 acres), of which 6,013 ha (14,858 acres) belongs to the marine area.
It is located mostly in the Guantánamo Province and reaches to the north into the Holguín Province. Most of the reserve is established in the drainage area of the Toa River, which flows for 118 km (73 mi) to the Atlantic Ocean in Baracoa.
Cuchillas del Toa is considered as one of the principal centers of biodiversity and endemism in Cuba and the insular Caribbean with rainy mountain forests, cloud forests and xerophytic matorral to complex coastal vegetation with mangroves and coral reefs.
The biosphere reserve protects tropical wet forest and coastal/marine ecosystems. It surrounds the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park and also contains El Yunque table mountain, the Infierno Creek with a 300 m (980 ft) waterfall, the Great Cave of Moa (Gran Caverna de Moa) and the Bay of Taco, north of Baracoa. The karstic system of the great cave of Moa Head lands is one of the five natural monuments in the country and one of the great cave systems in eastern Cuba.
With high biodiversity in flora and fauna, there are 928 endemic species reported, like the genus Podocarpus and Dracaena, ’botanic jewels‘ belonging to the most primitive species. Vertebrates as the royal carpenter (Campephilus principalis), the caguarero sparrow hawk (Chondrohierax wilsoni) and the almiqui (Solenodon cubanus) are also considered highly endangered species. Some of the world’s smallest mammal species are found in the reserve.
About 18,300 inhabitants (2002), in 498 communities, live in the buffer zone and transition area of this mountainous reserve. Engaged in forestry, traditional agriculture (coffee, coconut, and cacao) and ecotourism, they also raise cattle and participate in nickel, chromo, iron and cobalt mining explorations.