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Caribbean Islands
Centres of Plant Diversity and Endemism

Cuba

Cb1. Coast from Juragoa to Casilda Peninsula; Trinidad Mountains; Sierra del Escambray

Area: c. 2700 km² in south-central Cuba. Altitude: 0-1156 m.

  • Vegetation: Succulent and evergreen scrub thickets, including cacti; evergreen and semi-deciduous forests; seasonal and montane forests at higher elevations.
  • Flora: >1200 vascular plant species, of which c. 40 endemic; 7 endemic genera.
  • Threats: Proximity to towns and intensive cultivation pose threats. Native vegetation survives mostly in the mountains and on the coast, cays and less fertile land; otherwise native vegetation is fragmented.
  • Conservation: Escambray Integrated Management Area (1870 km²) (IUCN Management Category: VIII); Topes de Collantes Natural Park (122 km²) (IUCN Management Category: V).

Cb2. Oriente

Area: 18,000 km², i.e. the Eastern Sub-Province of Borhidi (1991). Altitude: 0-1974 m.

  • Vegetation: Seasonal evergreen forests, montane and submontane rain forests, pine forest, semi-evergreen scrub and semi-desert areas along the south coast.
  • Flora: >3000 vascular plant species, of which more than 1500 strictly endemic; 24 known endemic genera. "This area is considered to be the cradle of the Cuban flora and, together with western Hispaniola (Haiti), the most prominent centre of speciation in the Antilles" (Borhidi 1991: 349). Referring to the Nipe-Baracoa Massif, which is within the sub-province: "The richest flora of the Caribbean, and one of the richest floras of the World" (Borhidi 1991: 351). Useful plants include pines, Podocarpus, palms and many plants of potential ornamental value.
  • Threats: Removal of timber and fuelwood, mining and tourism. However, rugged topography, erosion and excessive drainage render most of the remaining important floristic areas unsuitable for agriculture.
  • Conservation: In the south Gran Parque Sierra Maestra (5270 km²), an Integrated Management Area (IUCN Management Category: VIII), comprising the National Parks of Desembarco del Granma (258 km²), Turquino (175 km²) and Gran Piedra (34 km²) (all of which are IUCN Management Category II) and the Biosphere Reserve of Baconao (846 km²) (IUCN Management Category: IX). In the north-east Cuchillas del Toa Biosphere Reserve (1275 km²) (IUCN Management Category: IX).

Cb3. Pinar del Río

Area: 1150 km², situated in the western mountains. Altitude: 0-692 m.

  • Vegetation: Coniferous forests, seasonal forests, forests and thickets on karstic limestone and serpentine, succulent and thorn scrub, swamp and oligotrophic lagoons and mangroves.
  • Flora: Estimated 500 endemic vascular plant species and 16 endemic genera. Of particular interest is the endemic cycad Microcycas calocoma. Useful plants include pines and oaks.
  • Threats: Removal of fuelwood, tourism. Forests on lower fertile soils degraded; thickets on rugged terrain and cliffs minimally at risk.
  • Conservation: Mil Cumbres Integrated Management Area (166 km²) (IUCN Management Category: VIII), which includes Cajálbana Tableland and Preluda Mountain region (see Data Sheet); Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve (100 km²) (IUCN Management Category: IX); Viñales National Park (containing Cuba's richest "mogotes" limestone towers) (134 km²) (IUCN Management Category: II); Península de Guanahacabibes Biosphere Reserve (1015 km²) (IUCN Management Category: IX); Cabo Corrientes Natural Reserve (16 km²) (IUCN Management Category: I); Sur Isla de la Juventud Natural Park (800 km²) (IUCN Management Category: V); Penínsular de Zapata National Park and the Cienaga de Zapata Natural Reserve.

(Source: A. Leiva and R. Berazaín 1993, in litt.).

Cb3. (in part) Cajálbana Tableland and Preluda Mountain region

Dominica

Cb4. Morne Trois Pitons National Park

Area: 70 km², in south-central interior of Dominica. Altitude: c. 600-1383 m.

  • Vegetation: Rain forest, montane forest, secondary palm brakes, elfin woodland. Other habitats provided by cold and hot (volcanic) lakes, sulphur springs, fumaroles.
  • Flora: 500 vascular plant species. Plants provide craft materials; some potential ornamental species.
  • Threats: Tourism and water supply development.
  • Conservation: The area is a National Park which protects a vital watershed, but there are limited management resources.

Dominican Republic

Cb5. Cordillera Central

Area: >1530 km² already in designated protected areas in parts of Provinces La Vega, Santiago, San Juan de la Maguana, Azua and Valverde. Altitude: 1000-3087 m.

  • Vegetation: Seasonal evergreen forest, submontane and montane rain forests with broadleaved hardwoods; Prestoea montana palm forest; Pinus occidentalis forest at higher elevations.
  • Flora: Estimated 1500 vascular plant species, of which 25-30% probably endemic (T.A. Zanoni 1993, in litt.). Useful plants include timber trees, such as Pinus occidentalis (western pine), Magnolia spp. and Lauraceae.
  • Threats: Logging, cattle grazing, tourism.
  • Conservation: José Armando Bermúdez National Park (766 km²) and José del Carmen Ramírez National Park (738 km²) cover substantial parts of the upper Cordillera Central. Two Scientific Reserves (IUCN Management Category: IV) occur within the parks: Valle Nuevo (409 km²) and Ebano Verde Natural (23 km²).

Cb6. Los Haitises

Area: region covers 1315 km² in north-east Dominican Republic. Altitude: 0-380 m.

  • Vegetation: Forests over limestone; however, only c. 10% of the native forests remain in and around the National Park.
  • Flora: >500 vascular plant species, of which 138 are island endemics.
  • Threats: Cattle grazing, agriculture, some logging, relocation of local population outside of National Park area.
  • Conservation: Los Haitises National Park (IUCN Management Category II) currently covers 208 km², but there are plans to extend this to include an area along Samaná Bay and mangroves at the west end of bay. There are also plans to include much of the area and the Samaná Peninsula in a Biosphere Reserve.

(Source: T.A. Zanoni 1993, in litt. See also Zanoni et al. 1990).

Cb7. Sierra de Neiba

Situated in western Dominican Republic. Altitude: 1000-2000 m.

  • Vegetation: Montane broadleaved forest, pine forest, cloud forest.
  • Flora: 300400 vascular plant species, of which 2530% are endemic. Useful plants include timber trees (such as Pinus occidentalis) and tree ferns (Cyathea spp.).
  • Threats: Clearance for agriculture, some grazing, removal of trees for timber and firewood.
  • Conservation: Proposed National Park. Possibility of inclusion within a Biosphere Reserve in the future.

(Source: T.A. Zanoni 1993, in litt. See also Santana Ferreras 1993.)

Haiti

Cb8. Pic Macaya

Area: 55 km², in south-western Haiti in the Massif de la Hotte. Altitude: 900-2347 m.

  • Vegetation: Wet broadleaved forest on limestone (900-c. 1250 m), complex mosaic of pine forest and cloud forest (c. 1250-2347 m).
  • Flora: 665 vascular plant species (of which c. 30% are endemic to Hispaniola) and 165 bryophyte species so far recorded within National Park area (see below) (Judd and Skean 1987; Judd, Skean and McMullen 1990).
  • Threats: Clearance for agriculture, some grazing, removal of trees for timber and firewood, and charcoal production.
  • Conservation: Parc National Pic Macaya (20 km²) (IUCN Management Category: II); possible inclusion within a Biosphere Reserve (Sergile, Woods and Paryski 1992).

Cb9. Morne La Visite

Area: 20 km², in south-eastern Haiti in the Massif de la Selle. Altitude: 1600-2282 m.

  • Vegetation: Pine forest and cloud forest.
  • Flora: 337 vascular plant species (of which c. 34% are endemic to Hispaniola) and 95 bryophyte species so far recorded (Judd and Skean 1987).
  • Threats: Clearance for agriculture, some grazing, removal of trees for timber and firewood, and charcoal production.
  • Conservation: Parc National Morne La Visite (IUCN Management Category: II).

(Source: W.S. Judd 1993, in litt.).

Jamaica

Cb10. Blue and John Crow Mountains

Cb11. Cockpit Country

Trinidad

Cb12. Aripo Savannas Scientific Reserve

Area: 18 km², situated in the east-central lowland area of Caroni Plain. Altitude: 35-40 m.

  • Vegetation: Marsh forest, palm-marsh and savanna.
  • Flora: No available total but herbaceous flora includes at least 14 species of Utricularia (bladderworts), 5 species of Xyridaceae, and Eriocaulaceae, Mayaca, Drosera and ground orchids, not otherwise represented in the southern Caribbean. Useful plants include Mauritia setigera (Moriche palm); other palms for craft materials include Euterpe precatoria (manac), Jessenia oligocarpa (palm real) and Manicaria plukenetii (timite). Past forestry practices within the Long Stretch Forest Reserve, of which the savannas form a part, have removed most of the commercially valuable timber.
  • Threats: Quarrying for sand and gravel takes place along the adjacent Aripo River and sometimes encroaches on the protected area. Fires occur regularly during the dry season in the grassy areas but their long-term significance is unknown; indigenous perennial herbaceous species are mostly naturally fire-adapted. Some hunting of indigenous mammals and birds takes place.
  • Conservation: Scientific Reserve (IUCN Management Category: I). Access is restricted. Extremely poor soil quality and impeded drainage protect the area from agricultural exploitation.

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