Political isolation of Cuba for 60 years protected its native flora and fauna

HAVANA, Feb. 24th The political and economic isolation that Cuba has suffered in the last 60 years protected the island from invasive species,

which is considered an ecological find, according to research published by the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

The study, which was also referenced by National Geographic, showed that Cuba is an atypical case among the 45 deeply studied islands.
The findings are “strong evidence that Cuba is a really special and spectacular place,” says lead author Meghan Brown, an ecologist specializing in invasive species at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York.
“Cuba is an atypical case: its trade and tourism declined more than half a century ago after Fidel Castro came to power, and it has only scored again in recent decades. Although many Cubans have suffered under the Castro regime, economic isolation also protected the island from invasive species, ”explains National Geographic.
The investigation, led by two women, was carried out between American and Cuban professionals in the area. At the head of the team on the island was the botanist Ramona Oviedo Prieto.

“Although several factors are likely to contribute to Cuba’sinvasion deficit’ – perhaps the ecosystems there are more resistant to invasions, for example – the country’s economy after the Revolution definitely plays an important role,” explains Brown.
“After the 1959 revolution, when Fidel Castro took power, the country’s connections with the outside world receded, in part due to a US trade embargo. In 1991, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Cuba’s closest trading partner, temporarily aggravated the isolation, “says National Geographic on issues of what specialists call political ecology.
Rafael Borroto-Páez, the invasive species biologist at the Cuban Institute of Tropical Geography in La Habana and co-author of the study, endorses Brown’s words and explains that “invasive species are a cost of open economies, hence the unusual isolation de Cuba has probably helped host their native ecosystems. ”
The team also identified dozens of invasive or potentially invasive plant species in Cuba, primarily from Asia, Africa, and the Americas, but not found on other Caribbean islands. In this sense, flora and fauna are understood as a reflection of the commercial behavior of a territory.

Hence, the island’s trading partners are also its source of invasive species. Faced with the possibility of strengthening the tourism sector, if a viable negotiation occurs between the United States and Cuba, the scientific community is expected to demand from its authorities actions to protect the island from invasive species, and thereby help “preserve its exceptional biodiversity ”, refers National Geographic.