Can’t See the Forest By the Trees?

Can’t See the Forest By the Trees?
Fecha de publicación: 
4 May 2022
Imagen principal: 

Cuba is not just Havana and the rest, green landscape, as a Cuban saying goes. Cuba is also its landscape, all its natural resources and environment. 

Therefore, not long ago the Presidency of the Republic approved the initiative legislation of a new "Law of the System of Natural Resources and the Environment” http://3054-O-ANPP.pdf ( .

By the way, the Cuban president commented via twitter: “We will have a solid and modern Law to also take care of our protected areas. It’s our commitment to the environmental future of Cuba.”

And what is the environmental present of the Island we live in?

Even though for almost 60 years environmental care has been a government concern translated into legal provisions and also into action strategies and many concrete actions, the truth is that there is still much to be done.

The official site of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA) lists the main environmental problems currently identified Ambientales-ean/ , and clarifies that the order in which they appear does not imply a hierarchy, since they are interrelated.

Soil degradation

More than 70% of the plowable land in Cuba is affected by erosion or degradation, which conspire against its productivity as well as being great challenge for farmers and the scientific community, both in the effort of guaranteeing food sovereignty.

Notwithstanding this statistic, and according to Dr. Elba Rosa Pérez Montoya, Minister of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA), speaking in the high-level dialogue on desertification, land degradation and drought -sequia/ , indicated that, as a result of the implementation, four years ago, of the State Plan to tackle with the climate change, known as the Tarea Vida (Life Task), the principles of sustainable land management were applied in Cuba to 2,525 hectares, while more than a million hectares of the country's agricultural area received some kind of benefit.

Shortage to forest coverig

In the last two years, there has been a plummeting trend in the levels of reforestation in the country, even though new areas have been incorporated for this purpose. At the end of last year, the area covered by forests in Cuba was 3 million 309 000 hectares, equivalent to 31.88% of the total area.

By 2030, according to the Reforestation Program until 2030, it’s projected to achieve a forest index of 33%, according to information from the Minister of Agriculture, Ydael Pérez Brito.


According to the head of CITMA, Odalys Goicochea , among the greatest challenges that Cuba faces on the environmental issue, pollution in human settlements, inland and maritime waters.

Goicochea ensures that actions are ranked to reduce or eliminate the effects of pollution on natural resources, mainly land and maritime waters, the atmosphere and soil, and the ecosystems of hydrographic basins, bays and mountainous areas. Consequently, policies are adopted for the management of residues and hazardous waste, among other. They are also working on the design of an environmental quality index for the country.

Diversity and endemism distinguish the Cuban flora and fauna and the main threats to our rich biodiversity come from the loss or fragmentation of habitats, forest fires, unsustainable agricultural practices, poaching, hunting, and logging, the illegal trade of species and the introduction and spread of invasive alien species.

However, Lourdes Coya de la Fuente, an expert in Environmental Policies from the General Directorate for Environment, assures that conferencia-de-diversidad-biologica/ Cuba arrived at the 15th Conference on Biological Diversity, the first part of which was held in October last year in China, with important contributions, such as the integration of biodiversity in the country's development policies and strategies; advances in the sustainable management and restoration of ecosystems.

To the above, she adds the control of direct threats to biodiversity such as forest fires, the conservation of the main values ​​of biodiversity through the National System of Protected Areas, as well as the increase in actions to confront the illegalities that affect natural resources.

Regarding this last issue, there’s a government Plan to fight crimes and illegalities that affect forest resources, flora and fauna.

Coya de la Fuente indicated that work is being done on updating a new cycle of the National Program on Biological Diversity, which has already completed four stages, and defines the national goals on this topic as well as the measures for the control of direct and indirect threats.

To the problems listed here, CITMA adds the lack and difficulties with the management, availability and quality of water, negative effects of climate change, and the deterioration of hygienic and sanitary conditions in human settlements.

But the head of that entity has stressed that,Gobierno%20y%20a%20la%20que%20se, the greatest challenges for Cuba are contamination in human settlements, inland and maritime waters, loss of forests and biological diversity and soil degradation.

Legality and environment

In parallel with the efforts for reforestation, sanitation, recycling, as well as environmental education, traditionally in Cuba regulations and laws have coexisted in favor of the environment, which speaks for the country and its citizenship.

Even in the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba approved in 1976, its article 27 established that "The State protects the environment and the natural resources of the country. It recognizes its close link with sustainable economic and social development to make human life more rational and ensure the survival, well-being and security of current and future generations…”

In that year 1976, the National Commission for the Protection of the Environment and Conservation of Natural Resources.

The National Environment and Development Program, the Cuban adaptation of Agenda 21, was approved in 1993 and a year later the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA) was created as the guide of environmental policy, among other functions.

An essential pillar has been Law 81 "On the Environment", of 11th July 1997, which establishes the principles that govern environmental policy and the basic rules to regulate the environmental management of the State, the actions of citizens and society in general, in order to protect the environment and contribute to achieving the country's sustainable development goals.

The Life Task as a State Plan for Confronting Climate Change dates from April 25th, 2017, and its actions and tasks are also related to environmental protection.

Now, the welcome preliminary draft of the Natural Resources and Environment System Law includes new aspects in correspondence with the most current priorities identified in this topic and proposes an articulation of the different policies related to natural resources and the different legal frameworks.

It’s an inclusive, broad, developer project that defends models such as the circular economy as well as systemic and landscape approaches, says the specialist in Environmental Law of CITMA, Teresa Cruz Sardiñas, who also underlines body aspects where the role of CITMA is determined as a sponsor in the search for sustainable development, the one referring to biological diversity and another to climate change.

This bill is currently being submitted for consideration of the National Assembly of People's Power and the Cuban population, with their opinions and comments can contribute to what will be "a solid and modern law", as the Cuban President assures.

Translated by Amilkal Labañino / CubaSí Translation Staff

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