Cuba Managing Coastal Ecosystems
The province of Camagüey is implementing a comprehensive mitigation plan to address beach erosion, a result of natural causes and human activity
Among the main areas of attention at Camagüey’s Environmental Research Center (Cimac) are the province’s northern barrier islands and other beaches being developed as a tourist destinations, given the fragility of these ecosystems which require constant monitoring and protection.
Nereida Junco Garzón, director of the institution, explained that these locations are being subjected to erosion, due to natural causes and human activity, the consequences of which must be minimized with responsible action that allows for their preservation and recovery.
A provincial inventory includes 58 sandy beaches with a total extension of 110 kilometers, located along the northern and southern coasts, as well as keys within the Jardines del Rey and Jardines de la Reina archipelagos, a portion of which are practically untouched by human hands.
Special attention is being given to Santa Lucia, the province’s principal beach resort, which has experienced notable changes in its natural features over time, primarily due to damaging actions by institutions and the population resulting from a lack of awareness or irresponsibility.
“A monitoring network with 47 points is in place there, which allows us to gather references on changes in the ecosystem, information that is shared with decision makers for the adoption of educational, legal, engineering measures, and others," reports Isis Hernández Sosa, Cimac specialist.A multi-sector environmental management plan for this coastal area includes the restoration of beaches and dunes, the construction of walkways, the elimination of invasive species, and the rehabilitation of areas where rigid structures were demolished.Alternatives are also being sought to minimize the negative impact and loss of sand caused by improper cleaning of beaches, a solution that is urgently needed, based on the use of more suitable equipment to prevent the accumulation of sea weed in swimming areas.Such experiences, positive and negative, are used by Cimac specialists to channel scientific-technological projects and services, to support responsible growth of tourism and logistical investment projects on Cruz and Romano Keys, off the province’s northern coast.
- More than a million cubic meters of sand was replaced on 11 kilometers of eroded beaches in Varadero, Matanzas, between 2008 and 2012.
- In the Jardines del Rey resort area, in Ciego de Ávila, 630,000 cubic meters of sand was added along six kilometers of coastline to recover El Paso Beach on Guillermo Key, as well as Flamenco and Las Coloradas, on Cayo Coco.
- On Cayo Las Brujas and Cayo Santa María, in Villa Clara, between 2017 and 2018, seven kilometers of beach front were renovated and protected with the addition of 730,000 cubic meters of sand on five stretches.
- Studies and recovery projects on beaches in the country’s principal tourist destinations, projected for the period 2016-2030, include: Playas del Este, Varadero, Villa Clara, Jardines del Rey, Camagüey, Las Tunas, Holguín, Cayo Largo, and Ancón.
- A plan conceived as a single systematic effort was begun in 2017, and projected through 2100, to expand sandy beaches and protect coastal areas, including adjacent infrastructure, from erosion.