Saturday, May 10, 2008

Prized Cuban wetlands in danger

IPS: If the worst outcomes predicted for climate change in Cuba become reality, a large portion of the Ciénaga de Zapata, the largest and best preserved wetland in the islands of the Caribbean Sea, could disappear by the second half of this century.

The Ciénaga de Zapata provides habitat for birds that are only found in Cuba, like the Zapata wren (Ferminia cerverai), sparrow (Torreornis inexpectata) and rail (Cyanolimnas cerverai). It is estimated that the marsh holds 65 percent of Cuba's birdlife, in addition to 1,000 plant species. The area, dominated by low plains, marshes and semi-wetlands, with savannah vegetation, holds forests, rivers and lakes, as well as 70 kilometres of caves in which semicircular freshwater lagoons have formed, known in Spanish as "cenotes".

But people who live less than 40 metres from the coast are not ready to give up the pleasure of being lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves. "People are resistant to leaving. They like to live near the sea," acknowledges Luis Lazo, a delegate from the citizen commission of Caletón, a neighbourhood near the water, where waves nearly reach the patios of the houses.

According to Lazo, so far this century the wetland has already survived several tropical cyclones and hurricanes that have thrashed this vast municipality in Matanzas province, which covers 4,520 square kilometres and has fewer than 10,000 inhabitants….

Map shows the Matanzas Province, "Qyd," Wikimedia Commons

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