Date of submission: 28/02/2003
Submitted by: Centro Nacional de Areas ProtegidasCalle 18a No.4114, 41-47. Playa. La Habana
WH list (name, id): Zapata Swamp National Park and Outstanding Natural Element speleo-lacustrine System of the Zapata Swamp
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Being a most valuable natural reservoir that stands out nationally, regionally and worldwide, Ciénaga de Zapata National Park is the main core area of the Biosphere Reserve and the Ramsar site that have the same name. Natural and socio-economic characteristics of this territory make it be a priority area due to the ecological fragility of its ecosystems, its values for the conservation of biodiversity and other natural resources. It is an extensive ecosystem made up of mangrove forests, keys, seagrass beds, coral reef barriers and deep reefs, including the Cazones Gulf, a deep underwater canyon that is the main recruitment site of important commercial species such as porgies and groupers. The conservation status of coral reefs in the area is most remarkable. It comprises an important system of gyre-like currents.
This territory is characterized by both the presence of considerable peat depth and the fact that it is a low, flat area from the viewpoint of relief. Top height above sea level is only about 10 meters, while top depth in below-sea-level coastal zones is as follows: 2 meters in the salt-marsh area and from 1-600 meters in the sea coastal zone.
Climatic characteristics are very marked by local physical-geographical conditions. Annual average temperature is warmer inland, with a warm thermical regime almost all year long. In the warmest month, average temperature is 30° C and in the coldest one is 20° C. The warmest season begins in May and ends in October, while the coldest one (winter) stretches from November-April.
Rainfall has a marked seasonal behavior, with values oscillating from 1,200 and 1,300 mm during the rainy season and 250 and 300 mm during the dry season. The humidity regime is due to the air relative humidity - 85% -- and the predominating wind is that from the East.
The overall relief is formed of marine surfaces conditioned by carbonated rocks and neotectonic evolution in the territory, with cumulative-biogenic coasts.
Soils have an E - W spatial distribution in four strips: red and yellowish ferrous, peaty and loam soils - peaty, red and black rendsines, coastal swampy, and mangrove solonchak.
There is an extensive variety of ecosystems, mainly in zones where the saltwaterfreshwater inter-phase conditions predominate and in lowlands where salty lagoons, mangrove vegetation and elevated-karst zones with typical semideciduous vegetation forest combine.
As to flora, there are outstanding species valuable as a genetic stock and different insectivorous plant species belonging to the genus Utricularia and Oxipalis. Likewise, remarkable to this area are the so-called "petenes", which have been recognized as a new plant complex for Cuba: the Plant Complex of Swamp Spring. There are diverse ecosystems, with plant formations such as: the semideciduous forest, the mangrove forest, the grama-grass savannah, grasslands and the swamp scrub, all of them being in an excellent conservation status.
Mangrove forests stand for one of the largest and best preserved stretches in Cuba. This is an only-one-forest-canopy perennial-foliate forest where we can find the four mangrove species existing in Cuba: Rhizophora mangle (Red mangrove), Avicenia germinans (Black mangrove), Laguncularia racemosa (White buttonwood) and Conocarpus erecta (Buttonwood). These plant formations act as coastal-line protectors and contribute to soil formation. They provide important shelter to a great deal of animal species of which many breed here. It is one of the most productive ecosystems contributing with many nutrients used by highly-commercially valuable species that develop part of their life cycle in this habitat.
Around 900 autochthonous plant species have been reported; they have been grouped into 110 families, with 115 Cuban endemics, of which 5 are local endemics. From the fauna point of view, the largest wild populations of the Cuban crocodile (Cocodrilus rhombifer) and the American crocodile (C. acutus) stand out. Here too are important populations of the Conga hutia (C. pilorides) as well as birds such as the Cuban sandhill crane (Gnus canadensis nesiotes). Remarkable is the presence of three endemic birds threatened due to their scarce distribution: the Zapata rail (Cyanolimnas cervarai), the Zapata wren (Ferminia cerverai) and the Zapata sparrow (Torreornis inexpectata inexpectata).
Species such as Amazona leucocephala (Parrot), Priotelus temnurus (Cuban trogon), Todus multicolor (Cuban tody), Mellisuga helenae (Bee hummingbird), Chlorostilbon ricordi (Cuban emerald) and Aratinga euops (Cuban parakeet) nestle in this Park. There are other birds such as: Butoegallus anthracinus (Common black hawk), Teretristis fernandinae (Yellow-headed warbler), Dendroica petechia (Yellow warbler), Starnoenas cyanocephala (Blue-headed quail-dove), Glaucidium siju (Cuban pygmy-owl).
There is a local endemic reptile subspecies, Anolis lueteogularis calceus, in the Park forests. Other fauna species are frequently found: Epicrates angulipher (Cuban boa), Capromys pilorides and Mysateles prehensilis (hutias), Trichechus manatus manatus (Manatee).
Furthermore, there are over 175 bird species, with 18 of the 22 Cuban endemic birds, 3 of them being local. Over 65 migratory birds visit this site. Reptiles stand out too, with 31 species, and there are over 1,000 invertebrate species.
Also, this zone is the only region in Cuba where the three Cuban genera of hutias (Capromys, Mesocapromys and Mysateles) co-exist.
There are abundant concentrations of highly commercially valuable fish and crustaceans in their larva and juvenile status as well as other highly conservation-valuable species, thus constituting an important site for these species spawning, sheltering and feeding.
Coordinates: North X 952°44'82" Y 104°09'23" East X 025° 44'82" Y 903°08'23" South X 598°44'82" Y 480°08'23" West X 445°45"82' Y 605°08'23"Located in the Municipality Playa, at Northwestern of the Havana City
Date of submission: 28/02/2003
Submitted by: National Council on Cultural Heritage4th St. and 13th St., #810, Vedado, CP 10400Havana.
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The set of buildings conforming the National Schools of Art, created in 1962, constitutes one of the most outstanding examples of contemporary Cuban architecture, with an acknowledged artistic value, reuniting testimonial values stemming from the historic moment in which it was built to serve as a the training school for artists. Some of the graduates form part of the history of contemporary Cuban art and the schools constitute a well-acknowledged set of Cuban architecture at an international level.
The architects that implemented the project took the decision of constructing the buildings based on two essential constructive elements: bricks and Catalan domes, given the scarcity of cement and concrete at that time. This has been the main characteristic of the set, regardless of the specificity of each school, inserted within an important natural context.
The creation of these National Schools of Art pursued a fundamental premise, that of serving as the training school for Cuban artists in five specialties: Plastic Arts, Music, Ballet, Drama, Modern and Folkloric Dancing and to establish cultural cooperation with other underdeveloped countries.
Its faculty, during the 60s and 70s, was formed by outstanding Cuban and Latin American artists and graduated the most representative artists of Cuban art.
Given all these reasons the schools are considered the most advanced example of an all-encompassing and multidisciplinary pedagogical and artistic project.
Coordinates: Marine Province and Ecoregion: Tropical Northwestern Atlantic Province, Central Caribbean Marine Ecoregion
Date of submission: 28/02/2003
Criteria: N (ii)(iii)(iv)
Submitted by: Centro Nacional de Areas Protegidas Calle 18a No.4114, 41-47. Playa. La Habana
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The proposed site is a cluster of different ecologically associated marine-coastal areas located in southern Cuba and mainly linked to two small-island archipelagos to the South of the island of Cuba that are known as Canarreos and Jardines de la Reina. They are interconnected through the main current system and secondary links of local currents and gyres. These archipelagos also differ from one another in their relation to the inland ecosystems, local currents, relative geographical location, origin and other physicalgeographical aspects.
The proposal stretches from Guanahacabibes Peninsula in westernmost Cuba to Jardines de la Reina in southern Cuba.
This 800-km-long system includes 9 protected areas comprising the main marine areas in Cuba and the most important ones in the insular Caribbean due to their extension, natural values and conservation status. According to their geographical location from West to East, these areas are:
1. Jardines de la Reina National Park
2. Banco de Jagua Fauna Refuge
3. Este de Cayo Largo Ecological Reserve
4. Cayos Avalos Cantiles Rosario National Park
5. Punta del Este Ecological Reserve
6. Punta Francds National Park
7. San Felipe - Los Indios National Park
8. Guanahacabibes National Park
9. Banco de Knoll Natural Outstanding Element
Jardines de la Reina National Park: Being the largest, most pristine and natural Cuban marine ecosystem, it is formed of the archipelago of the same name and has the largest populations of Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Loggerhead (Careta Careta) in the insular Caribbean, the other marine chelonian populations standing out too. As to fish, this Park harbors the largest populations in Cuba -- possibly in the Caribbean. The coral reef conservation status is very good. The Park stretches along 2,170 km2.
Banco de Jagua Fauna Refuge: It is a completely marine area made up in the upper part of an underwater elevation off the Cuban insular shelf that is a distinctive trait of the Cuban underwater world. It houses extensive coral systems.
Este de Cayo Largo Ecological Reserve: Located near the eastern border of the Canarreos Archipelago, this reserve encompasses the largest calcareous and oolithic sand key in the Caribbean. I also includes reefs and seagrass beds.
Cayos Avalos Cantiles Rosario National Park: It is a complex of keys with different origins such as Cayo Cantiles that houses almost ten local endemics; the Park is a unique example of a small-islands natural evolutionary laboratory. Cayo Rosario shelters the largest population of Iguana (Ciclura nubila nubila) while Cayo Avalo houses the largest underwater archeological flotsam site in Cuba. This Park includes a whole range of seagrass beds and coral reefs typical to these ecosystems.
Punta del Este Ecological Reserve: Located in the southeastern border in the second largest island (Isle of Youth) of the Cuban archipelago, it comprise the main rupestrian-paintcontaining site in Cuba, and one of the most important ones in the Caribbean. It includes typically terrestrial ecosystems as well as submarine ones. It is a very important area for reef fish and spiny lobster raising in Cuba.
Punta Francds National Park: Being the best known Cuban underwater site and possibly one of the most developed ones concerning deep front coral reef formations, it has over ten well-preserved underwater caves.
San Felipe - Los Indios National Park: Formed of the westernmost Canarreos Archipelago, it includes the clusters of keys with the same name. Here we can find a relic population of a Cuban endemic mammal, the San Felipe Hutia (Capromys sanfelipensis) as well as two other local endemic fauna species. It is very important to the spiny lobster and other commercially important species due to the partial retention produced by a gyring current to the south of the area. This Park harbors well-preserved underwater ecosystems.
Guanahacabibes National Park: Situated in westernmost Cuba, it is the core area of the Biosphere Reserve of the same name. There are very well-preserved coral ecosystems. This area is one of the main spawning zones for porgies and groupers, thus constituting one of the sources that contribute most with these species to the Canarreos Archipelago and the Batabano Gulf, given the prevailing system of currents to the East.
Banco de Knoll Natural Outstanding Element: It is a deep underwater bank formed of an odd submarine elevation off the insular shelf. Interesting megalithic structures located several hundreds of meters deep were recently discovered here and are currently under study.
Most of these areas relate to the two most extensive Cuban archipelagos after that situated to the North (Sabana-Camaguey) and include over 1,200 keys and islets. Its ecosystems are very rich and well preserved while the status of the populations existing there is very good.
Some of the threatened species are the 4 chelonian species living in Cuba, which are most splendid in Jardines de la Reina; the populations of manatees and crocodiles, which are superlative in the Cienaga de Zapata -- including the only population of the Cuban crocodile (Cocodrilus rhombifer).
The fringing-barrier coral reef system along the insular border is extensive and almost continuous, forming the longest barrier of this type in the insular Caribbean. A great deal of this system is located 30-100 km off the Island of Cuba, though some areas are adjacent to the coast of the Island of Cuba. In all cases, the system of keys and the karstic lithology (contributions of freshwater, sediments and nutrients) account for highly related marine and terrestrial ecosystems.
The aforementioned condition differs in only two completely marine areas constituting isolated banks off the insular shelf and being true underwater "Islands" isolated in midocean.
The reef system has generally undergone low levels of disturbance, the highest ones relating to natural causes such as hurricanes and global or regional effects such as mortality of black long-spined sea urchins, coral diseases, bleaching, etc.