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Where is La Sierra del Rosario located?
One of the sites that stand out for the natural beauty of the environment in Cuba, for its flora, fauna and conservation is the Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve. It is a place that you can visit while passing through Cuba, we invite you to know details about this area that has been declared by the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve on February 15, 1985.
Located in the westernmost area of the island of Cuba, La Sierra del Rosario extends for the most part in the Province of Artemisa and treasures the highest altitude in western Cuba, known as the Pan de Guajaibón with 692 meters high.
Its western end, on the other hand, is located in the Pinar del Río Province, the Loma de Seboruco.
The Sierra is the eastern part of the Cordillera de Guaniguanico that continues west in Pinar del Río in the Sierra de los Órganos, in its entirety encompassing areas of several municipalities: Artemisa, Bahía Honda, Candelaria and San Cristóbal.
Some interesting aspects about the area.
The region that the Sierra del Rosario occupies was inhabited during prehistory by the Mesolithic groups, pre-agrofood siboneyes, who took advantage of its caves and caverns to live.
The works carried out by archaeologists have revealed several sites that are interesting for their historical value and that measure everything that happened at that time.
According to what is referred to in official books, it was in the 17th and 18th centuries when the massive settlement of French coffee growers took place from Santo Domingo and Louisiana, from the United States and from other French colonies in the Caribbean.
As a consequence, for the first half of the 19th century it became one of the most prosperous coffee growing areas on the entire island.
This settlement also brought with it the agro-industrial advances that influenced colonial architecture with a marked French style of exquisite taste.
After 1959 other changes came to the region. A community was created, specifically Las Terrazas, today much visited by international tourism and where there are hotels where you could spend a magnificent vacation.
A place of marked ecological interest, for all its natural riches, the first Biosphere Reserve in Cuba established by UNESCO was declared in 1984.
It is among the Protected Areas of the country for its environmental importance, for the core areas are located in the heights of the Hall and for the Peladas, all called ECOLOGICAL AND NATURAL RESERVE respectively, according to the categories with which the Protected Areas in Cuba are worked.
Sierra del Rosario, a place reserved by nature
The Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve is considered a very important place in Cuba, not only because it is the first area in the country declared a Biosphere Reserve but also because from a research perspective it allows access to the est knowledge of the flora and fauna and a wide variety of environmental projects have been applied in the area.
For this reason, many consider it an ecological laboratory and because their communities cohabit harmoniously, with the care and preservation required.
What are the soils like in La Sierra del Rosario?
From a geological point of view, the area where it is located is a complex area, according to the scholars of the subject. Limestones and karst predominate.
The serpentine rocks are in the most western part, the hard limestone rocks predominate, in the Artemisa and Polier formations. It is also possible to find the karst. As for the soils, the most common are ferralitic and brown, in addition to clay and sandy loam.
The weather in La Sierra del Rosario
The exuberant vegetation of the area makes the climate of the Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve quite mild compared to the rest of the island. This has been established thanks to data archived by more than 25 years of study.
It is found that the average temperature throughout the year is 24.4 degrees Celsius. The greatest temperature changes occur in the months of November and February. The hottest are July and August with an average of 27 degrees Celsius and the coldest December with an average of 21.3.
Due to its geographical position it is one of the areas most affected by hurricanes, cyclones and cold fronts and abundant rains give an average of 2013.9 milliliters The rainiest month is June and the driest month is December, the average relative humidity is 95 percent, The highest rainfall occurs between May and October.
In the dry months there is also a probable supply of water in the form of low clouds or fog for the subsistence of living organisms during this stage of less rain.
The Trade Winds exert their predominant E-NE influence. In addition we can add that the bioclimatic type can be classified into Euthermaxérico of type six.
Communities in La Sierra del Rosario
In Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve, given its extensive geography, the population is not extensive.
According to official data, more than 5000 people live in communities throughout the Sierra, but are mainly grouped together in the «Las Terrazas» community and another 7 smaller and more isolated ones, inserted in the natural landscape of the Sierra.
The houses have generally been built in harmony with their history and not to alter the environment, with typical Creole tiles.
Flora in The Sierra del Rosario
Flora in general has a total of 889 plant organisms, grouped into 608 upper plants and 281 lower plants. There is an endemic and monotypic genus from Pinar del Río, typical of the place: Phyllomelia (Rubiacea), only documented worldwide for Cajálbana and Sierra del Rosario.
A distinctive element of the Sierra del Rosario, the vegetation is varied, where pine forests, semi-deciduous forests and tropical forests predominate and include xeromorphic scrubs.
In the area there is 34 percent endemism, a very high figure, in general the number of plant species is close to 889.
The most widespread of these is the evergreen tropical forest, with trees that are around 40 meters high and coincide in characteristics with the neotropical forests.
In the Sierra the cork palm is located, a plant that is considered a true living fossil, we can see them on the steep slopes of the mogotes.
In the Soroa Orchid Botanical Garden, a must-see on your way through La Sierra, there is an important collection of orchids, some exclusive to Cuba and others exotic.
The Fauna in La Sierra del Rosario
The fauna that inhabits the reserve is typical of the western region of Cuba. Among them the birds stand out, such as the muleteer, the mockingbird, herons, and the zunzuncito.
Among the reptiles that have been identified there are 16 species, of which 12 are indigenous.
Some of these species are the river lizard, exclusive to the area and therefore endangered, and the majá de Santa María, a type of boa constrictor that can measure up to 6 meters.
And the mammals are represented by the jutias, which are the most popular and at the same time, the most threatened by indiscriminate hunting for food consumption and also rats, mongooses and ferrets can be found. The largest family is that of bats with at least a dozen species.
Many species of migratory birds are observed in the Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve, one of which predominates is the screech and Tocororo is also found in abundance.
There is the possibility of finding some deer. These were introduced in the 17th century, and adapted very well without damaging the ecosystem. These beautiful animals are permanently closed.
Amphibians on the other hand accumulate 12 unique species of the island and among them the smallest frog that exists. There is an immense variety of mollusks and insects.
Hydrography of La Sierra del Rosario.
In the area that the Sierra del Rosario occupies there are rivers, streams and ravines, some of which are widely recognized for their beauty and medicinal waters.
The most important river is the San Juan, although there is also the Bayate, considered a ravine, San Claudio, San Francisco, La Pastora and Pedernales.
The San Juan River has several natural pools that are maintained even in very dry times. There are also four streams and canyons: Bayate, San Francisco, San Claudio and Santiago, where the existence of medicinal mineral waters has been proven.
The Salto de Soroa, about 22 meters high, the Baños del San Juan and La Joven Niagara stand out for their natural beauty. You can find several artificial lakes, among which Lago el Palmar, Lago San Juan and San Francisco.
Economy in La Sierra del Rosario
The local economy in the first place dedicates its greatest efforts to the coffee industry, they also have an ecological pulper of the grain.
The Buenavista Cafetal stands out, the first of great importance in the New World, which dates from the 18th century and is currently fully restored, being a great attraction for tourism.
Undoubtedly, another of the most important sources of income for the local economy in the Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve is camping, ecological tourism and photography of wild fauna. Tourists who choose the area to rest can choose “La Moka” hotel or the private homes of the locals.
In tourism are the complex “Las Terrazas”, “Villa Horizonte Soroa” and the camping bases “La chorrera”, “El taburete” and “La Caridad”.
Tobacco is added, a production destined to make world-famous cigars.
In addition to these three fundamentals, wood is extracted for commercial and lucrative purposes and cattle and pig farming is practiced.
One element that has contributed significantly to soil degradation is the burning and burning of trees and the construction of coal furnaces.
Reforestation in La Sierra del Rosario
As part of the preservation actions of the Sierra del Rosario are the development and reforestation plans. One of the most notable, being the initiator of this endeavor, is the 1968 Sierra del Rosario Socio-Economic Development Plan.
The plan included the reforestation of 5,000 hectares with native species, as well as the creation of a system of constant platform terraces to control soil erosion.
It also included the construction of roads for access to the area and the creation of a community to concentrate the isolated inhabitants of the area and thus be able to guarantee basic services for education, culture, health, sports, recreation and jobs.
Studies have been carried out on the structure, operation, composition and regeneration of evergreen forests and the Ecological Station of the Reserve was created in 1985 to guarantee scientific work and at the same time to introduce, generalize and coordinate environmental education activities.
All these activities led to the grouping of more than one hundred family nuclei scattered throughout the region, about thirty kilometers of asphalt roads and more than one hundred main and secondary roads were built.
With the effort, it was possible to establish sixty kilometers of terraces and plant more than six million trees of precious woods, decreased soil degradation by 10%, the impact on forest cover by 50% and the loss of land by 40%. of biodiversity.
There are also five-year, annual plans for reforestation, and the Ranger Corps works stably to monitor the area.
Other activities for the preservation of La Sierra del Rosario.
A Tourism Project was started in the Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve that is based on the harmonious relationships between the population, the daily activities they carry out and the environment.
All productive, economic, social and scientific actions are organized and regulated and strategies are drawn up to ensure the sustainable development of the area. Even the solid waste generated by the tourist activity is collected, classified and recycled.
In the Sierra all establishments have liquid waste treatment. The water supply comes from a deep well and is treated by controlled chlorination.
Research is encouraged in topics such as in situ conservation of agro-diversity, rescue and conservation of plant genetic resources to contribute to food security, endogenous and sustainable development of communities.
Environmental Education programs involve schools and communities, teachers, students, and community leaders are trained and exchanges of experiences are carried out at the scientific and community levels, as well as the subsequent dissemination in the local and national press.
For the results achieved in all efforts to conserve and manage resources in the Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve, it was awarded the National Prize for the Environment on June 5, 2001.
The Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve is an example of adequate and comprehensive sustainable management, proof that man and the environment can coexist taking advantage of one another without harm.