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Ciénaga de Zapata Biosphere Reserve, Cuba

Situated on the southern coast of Cuba at Matanzas province, the Ciénaga de Zapata Biosphere Reserve covers 628,171 hectares. It is one of the largest and most important wetlands in the Caribbean region with a marine southern borderline. Ciénaga de Zapata was designated as Ramsar site in 2001. This area is a cluster biosphere reserve with several core areas, highly valuable for conservation located in the Ciénaga de Zapata National Park. 

Designation date: 2000


Regional network: IberoMAB

Ecosystem-based network: 




    Surface : 625,354 ha

    • Core area(s): 196,828 ha
    • Buffer zone(s): 317,337 ha 
    • Transition zone(s): 111,189 ha

    Location: 22°19'54,385"N   81°27'51,625"W

    Administrative Authorities

    Órgano CITMA de la Ciénaga de Zapata

    Jorge L Jiménez
    Carretera a Playa Larga, km 26
    Ciénaga de Zapata

    Tel.: (53) (45) 914265

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    Ecological Characteristics

    This reserve shows a great diversity of ecosystems and land cover types as grasslands, mangrove forests, Ciénaga forest , and semi-deciduous forest, evergreen coastal and sub-coastal forest; coastal and sub-coastal matorral, and coral reefs with principal coral species and coastal lagoons. The area also supports the main populations of the Cuban crocodile (Cocodrilus rhombifer) and American crocodile (C. acutus) and birds as the great flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber).




    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    Some 9,000 (2001) people, mostly of Spanish origin, live permanently in one of the largest biosphere reserves in Cuba. Economic activities are mainly silviculture, fisheries, community agriculture, tourism, handicraft and apiculture. Tourism is very important and brings more than 800,000 people to the area each year, for the benefit of the local communities. They are actively involved in decision-making processes through public hearings and peoples councils organized by the administration of the local government. As this biosphere reserve covers a whole watershed and entire protected areas, all long-term objectives for conservation, development of sustainable land-use practices is met. The region of the Ciénaga de Zapata Biosphere Reserve has been declared a Special region for sustainable development.


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    Last updated: February 2019