Desembarco del Granma National Park is a World Heritage site located in Cuba at 19°50'N -77°45'W.
The nominated World Heritage site includes the system of marine terraces of Cabo Cruz, which lies 154 kilometers (km) west of Santiago de Cuba. Approximate co-ordinates are 19°50'N -77°45'W
Date and History of Establishment
Desembarco del Granma was designated as National Park by Regulation No. 171 of 1986. Inscribed as a World Heritage site in 1999.
The nominated World Heritage site comprises 26,180 hectares (ha) of terrestrial area, 6,396 ha of marine area and 9,287 ha of terrestrial buffer zone.
From -180 meters (m) in some terraces up to 460 m.
The nominated World Heritage site contains the most singular coastal landscapes that can be found in Cuba with the largest and best preserved systems of marine terraces (both above and below the sea level) on calcareous rock, which exist in the world. These systems are located on the pseudopericlines of Sierra Maestra and comprises a series of elevated limestone marine terraces extending from 360 m above sea level to 180m below. The nominated area lies within a tectonically active zone between the Caribbean and North American plates.
Dry with annual rainfall fluctuating between 700-1,200 millimeters (mm). The average temperature is 26 degrees Celsius (°C).
According to still incomplete data a total 512 species of plants exist in these areas, of which around 60% are endemic to it. The nominated area is considered one of the most important centers of floral endemism within Cuba. There is also a newly defined vegetation complex on the terraces.
The nominated World Heritage site contains 13 species of mammals, 110 birds, 44 reptiles and seven amphibians. At least 23% of the mammals, 22.7% of the birds, 90.9% of the reptiles and 85.7% of the amphibians are local or national endemisms. Several species are of conservation concern including Caribbean manatee Trichechus manatus (VU) and blue-headed quail-dove Starnoenas cyanocephala (EN).
No reliable figures concerning invertebrates are available although they have been estimated to be numerous, with particularly large numbers of mollusks and butterflies. Four out of six species of painted snails (Polymita picta, P. brocheri, P. venusta and P. versicolor) - a group of endemic mollusks considered perhaps the most beautifully colored genus in the world, live in the area, one of which (P. brocheri) can only be found in a section of these terrace systems.
There are well-developed coral formations with associated fauna. These corals are visited by loggerhead turtle Caretta caretta (EN), green turtle Chelonia mydas (EN), olive ridley Lepidochelys olivaceas (EN) and hawksbill turtle Eretmochelys imbricata (CR). There is also a colony of queen conch Strombus gigas.
The area has a remarkable archaeological value as it was the original settlement of groups that belonged to the Taina Culture. In the area, the local population has strong genetic and spiritual links with this group. The El Guate archeaological site includes a group of ceremonial caves. There is a well-preserved XIX Century lighthouse. Finally, most of the relevant milestones related to the Cuban Revolution took place in the area of Cabo Cruz. For instance, in 1956, 82 members of the Granma yacht landed in the area of Las Coloradas.
Local Human Population
At least 900 people live within Desembarco del Granma National Park, most of them concentrated on the fishing village of Cabo Cruz. There are around 8,000 people living in the buffer zone. The population in the buffer zone is estimated to be 6,000 people.
Visitors and Visitor Facilities
Desembarco del Granma National Park receives very little tourism; it has been estimated that no more than 1,000 tourists (both foreign and national) visit the site each year. The park has two interpretative trails, one of which (El Guate) being the first to be built in Cuba. The staff of this protected area is very well trained to attend the visitors.
Scientific Research and Facilities
No detailed information provided. However, the nominated World Heritage site has been the focus of numerous studies and researches on the local fauna, geology and flora.
The area can be regarded as a one of the most important centers of plant diversity and endemism that exist in Cuba, being only surpassed by the mountainous massifs of the east of the country. DGNP contains most key and interrelated natural elements present in the region, including the coral reef of Cabo Cruz, sea grass beds and mangroves near Pilon, and the western part of the Park, and old sub-marine terraces up to 30 m deep. DGNP has sufficient size, altitudinal and climatic diversity and ecological elements necessary for the long-term conservation of the park's terrestrial ecosystems and in-shore marine ecosystems and their biological diversity, including endemic and migratory species. The current legislative framework for the park is adequate and include marine ecosystems within the regulations on boundaries of the National Park.
The first management plan for Desembarco del Granma National Park was approved in 1986. This plan is regularly updated and it is aimed at maintaining the conservation status of landscapes and species, promoting the recreational use by the public and restoring those ecosystems, which are significantly degraded.
The nominated World Heritage site is not subjected to major threats or pressures. The system of terraces included in Cabo Cruz are very well-preserved, though there are some minor local disturbances in Boca del Toro and La Jagüita. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, sea floods and earthquakes are by large the most significant dangers. In areas to the north of the terraces, there has been some logging of semi-deciduous evergreen forest in the period between 1940-1980. An old road goes through the first level of the terraces up to the Ovando River.
Exotic species, while less of a problem than in other smaller islands, are nevertheless present and new introductions could have unknown consequences for native flora and fauna. Several aggressive introduced thorny trees make natural regeneration of forest cover difficult without induced reforestation; for this reason the park has an active nursery and reforestation program.
A total 194 people work in Desembarco del Granma National Park, of which 16 are professionals, 32 technicians and 146 are laborers.
Desembarco del Granma National Park has a total budget of Cuban Pesos 60,000 (US$2,608) and has recently received a financial assistance totaling US$60,000 from WWF Canada.
IUCN Management Category
- Desembarco del Granma National Park II (National Park)
- Natural World Heritage Site - Criteria i, ii
The most relevant references included in the nomination are the following:
- Agassiz, A. (1983). A reconnaissance of the Bahamas and elevated reefs of Cuba. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 26:1-203.
- Busto, R. del (1975). Las terrazas marinas de Maisí. Revista Ciencias 10, Universidad de la Habana. 10pp.
- Centro Nacional de Biodiversidad (1995). Estudio Nacional sobre la Diversidad Biológica en la República de Cuba. Agencia de Medio Ambiente, Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Medio Ambiente. Unpublished.
- Hernández, J.R., González, A. and Pérez, F. (1989). Deformaciones tectónicas de las terrazas marinas de la Sierra Maestra. Revista Ciencias de la Tierra y el Espacio: 115-131.
- IUCN (1996). 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. 368 pp. + annexes. ISBN: 2831703352.
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