Reserva de la Biosfera Cuchillas de Toa
West of Baracoa, the 208,305-hectare Cuchillas de Toa Biosphere Reserve encompasses most of the Alturas de Sagua-Baracoa, Cuchillas de Toa, and Cuchillas de Moa mountain ranges, and rises from sea level to 1,139 meters in elevation. The reserve has diverse climate types and ecosystems and protects the richest flora and fauna in Cuba, including more endemic species than anywhere else on the island, not least the polymite (a colorful snail species).
Much of the area is forested in Cuban pine, a perfect habitat for the ivory-billed woodpecker and its cousin, the endemic and endangered royal woodpecker. (The ivory-billed woodpecker was once common throughout the American South, but they have not been seen in the United States since the 1940s. The bird was considered extinct until the mid-1980s, when it was identified in these mountains. The sightings resulted in the Cuban government’s establishing a 220-square-kilometer protection area. However, no sightings have since been made.)
The reserve, under the aegis of the CITMA (Ciencias Tecnología de Ambiente, Martí #133, esq. Frank País, tel. 021/64-3300, conservacion [at] toa [dot] gtm [dot] sld [dot] cu), is divided into several national parks. Visits are coordinated through EcoTur (Calixto García, esq. Marina Grajales, tel. 021/64-3665, ecoturbc [at] enet [dot] cu).
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition