The Caguanes mangroves fulfilled their primary protective function, but there were serious consequences for the vegetation of the region
The approximately 4,000 acres of the Parque Nacional Caguanes mangrove forests —located on the coast of Yaguajay (north of Sancti Spiritus), and considered as one of the best in Cuba— fulfilled their primary function as protective barrier of that littoral area, which was not greatly damaged by Hurricane Irma. Yet, there were serious consequences for the vegetation of the region.
“That mangrove used to be dense as there was no industrial dumping in the area. After the meteorological event there was neither significant flood damage, nor many dead species thanks to the protection offered by the forest. But the plants were severely harmed. We are estimating a 90 percent partial damage, especially from the foliar point of view and also broken branches. We must now work to regenerate the mangrove, which will cost a lot”, said Leonel Diaz Camero, delegate of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA) in the province.
In this sense, he pointed out, it’s urgent to cut down the damaged branches and bushes, according to the possibilities and resources available, while the rest of the trees will be restored naturally and the policy of reforestation will continue with the existing nurseries.
According to specialists, the damages in Caguanes are estimated to more than 40 million pesos, based on the environmental services that the mangrove provides for the ecosystem, Díaz Camero added.
For their part, Jobo Rosado, Topes de Collantes and Banao Natural Forests, were significantly affected hy the hurricane. At present moment, hiking is not possible in these tourist sites, while their natural regeneration could be complex and slow.
As for the damage to wildlife, the most significant is the death of more than 500 pink flamingos —around half of the population counted in the Piedra de Caguanes Keys—, where they had begun to settle in recent years. This will require to create nesting grounds for them again and to clean up the lagoons.