Caguanes National Park: Buenavista Biosphere Reserve (Cuba)
Caguanes National Park is established around the Caguanes Peninsula on the northern coast of Cuba and is the core area of the Buenavista Biosphere Reserve. The protected area includes coral reefs, rocky beaches, evergreen coastal forests, and mangroves.
Caguanes National Park
Caguanes National Park is located in the Yaguajay municipality in the northern part of Sancti Spíritus Province on Cuba's northern (Atlantic) coast. It covers an area of approximately 205 sq km (79 sq mi) and is one of the core areas of the Buenavista Biosphere Reserve.
The park is established around the Caguanes Peninsula. It includes ten small cays (Cayos de Piedra) that reach out in the Bay of Buena Vista (a Ramsar Convention site) and the Guayaberas swamps and mangroves.
Caguanes National Park's coastal landscape is characterized by caves, arches, and niches that open to the sea. A total of 79 caves have been recorded in the area.
The ecosystem consists of more than 200 species, 24 of them endemic. More than 100 species of birds nest in the marsh and coastal area. In addition, a large population of mariposa bats is present in the Tres Dolinas cave.
In addition, Caguanes National Park conserves 35 archaeological sites, most representing cave dwellers. Cave murals can be found in the partially submerged cave system.
Buenavista Biosphere Reserve
The Buenavista Biosphere Reserve is situated on the northern coast of Cuba, in parts of the Villa Clara, Sancti Spiritus, and Diego de Avila provinces, covering a total surface area of 313,502 ha (774,677 acres).
The more prominent marine part includes coral reefs and rocky and sandy beaches. In contrast, the terrestrial part comprises evergreen microphyllous coastal and subcoastal forests, mangrove forests, and matorral (scrubland).
The Buenavista Biosphere Reserve has eleven core areas in two protected areas: Caguanes National Park and Jardines de la Reina Marine Reserve and National Park, and two fauna refuges located west of Santa Maria Key and Las Loras Key.
These core areas contain extraordinary natural, historical and cultural values, with 35 archaeological sites, caves, rural art, and wall paintings. In addition, the Biosphere Reserve has a high biodiversity of flora and fauna and many endemic (20) and threatened species.
Some 25,000 permanent inhabitants live within the Biosphere Reserve in four towns and six rural villages. Their main economic activities are tourism, handicrafts, traditional medicine, apiculture (beekeeping), conventional agriculture (sugar cane), fishery, forestry, and community agriculture.
Tourism has considerable development potential. Approximately 7,000 tourists visit the area annually, and some of the main activities are hunting, fishing, beach tourism, diving, and speleology (the study or exploration of caves). In addition, many environmental education programs are carried out in the Biosphere Reserve.