The Sierra del Rosario is located in the eastern part of Cuba's Guaniguanico mountain range, the site of the first significant coffee plantation in the New World. The Biosphere Reserve protects tropical forests with evergreen and semi-deciduous environments.
Sierra del Rosario
The Sierra del Rosario is a mountain range located in the western part of Cuba, primarily in the Pinar del Río Province. It is known for its lush vegetation, rich biodiversity, and historical significance. The range is part of the more extensive Guaniguanico Mountain Range that extends across western Cuba.
Rolling hills, steep slopes, and deep valleys characterize the landscape of the Sierra del Rosario. The elevation varies across the range, with some peaks reaching around 2,000 feet (600 meters) above sea level.
The mountain range is covered with dense tropical forests, including rainforests and cloud forests. These forests contribute to the region's high level of biodiversity and provide important ecological services.
The range is home to various plant species, including many endemic and rare species. It's also an essential habitat for various bird species, mammals, and reptiles.
Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve
The Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve is located in the eastern part of Cuba's Guaniguanico mountain range, between Pinar del Rio and Havana's provinces (Artemisa and Mayabeque). Both the north and south coasts can be seen from the Biosphere Reserve. It protects 26,686 ha (65,942 acres) of tropical forests with evergreen and semi-deciduous environments.
This reserve presents a complex geological structure, with a diversity of rocks that produce unique soils, which in part determine flora endemism in the landscape. The tiny orchid Bletia purpurea is considered a symbol of this reserve. Some parts of the range have exposures of Serpentine rock where, instead of a forest, there is grassland and thorny xeromorphic thickets and shrublands.
The ecological field station, Sierra del Rosario, has been cleared of its natural forest cover. Still, semideciduous forests, 'cuabales,' hummocks 'mogotes' and secondary forest regeneration species exist, such as the royal palm tree and 'yagruma.'
The Biosphere Reserve was the site of the first significant coffee plantation in the New World, and there are still a few places where small, self-contained farms exist. Shade coffee is part of the range of items grown. Buenavista has a substantial coffee drying area, where the techniques and machinery from the 19th century are still remarkably well preserved.
The Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve shares analogous environmental conditions and resource management issues with its "twin reserve," Mexico's Sierra del Manantlán Biosphere Reserve.
More than 5,500 people live in the Biosphere Reserve, mainly working in handicrafts, agriculture, cattle raising and reforestation.
Both national and foreign scientists are involved in research and monitoring at the Institute of Systematics and Ecology. They have improved tropical reforestation, agriculture, and local ecotechnology by developing biofertilizers containing different mixtures of mycorrhizae.
They also promote the use of non-conventional energy. There is also a solid public environmental education focus and specialized eco-tourism. A fine eco-hotel has been built in the biosphere reserve, which blends into a hillside.