An evergreen forest, rain, and love

Three species of trees allow us to come back to our beloved Topes de Collantes. They are exclusive Cuban species with reduced populations in the past but now recovering with our help.


Fecha: 27/07/2020


Proyecto: Conservation of threatened mountain species.


Every three months, we visit the nurseries where new plants of “mantequero” (Magnolia cubensis subsp. acunae), “sabina cimarrona” (Podocarpus angustifolius), and Tabebuia sauvallei are growing. Every other year, we monitor the hundreds of plants already planted in local farms. A dedicated member of Planta! would never forget them.

Every three months, we visit the nurseries where new plants of "mantequero" (Magnolia cubensis subsp. acunae), "sabina cimarrona" (Podocarpus angustifolius), and Tabebuia sauvallei are growing at Topes de Collantes.

An open sky treasure

Topes de Collantes is a unique protected area, sometimes called a myth by visitors and scientists. With many natural values, rivers, and beautiful waterfalls, even the climate is quite different from the suffocating summers of the Island. Topes locates in the Guamuhaya Mountains, in Central Cuba, at about 800 meters above sea level.

Topes de Collantes is sometimes called a myth by visitors and scientists.

In over 12,000 hectares, numerous Cuban exclusive plants grow. Plants here are green all year round since the rain is so abundant. However, we prefer to work when it is dry and sunny because walking in mud is not helpful when you have to recover many kilometers on foot.

From the nurseries into the fields and cities

We were monitoring this area since 2010 when we started reintroducing the three species of trees. Many of the first nursery plants introduced are now trees in bloom, which leaves us with a sense of pride. Almost all the trees planted are growing in the farm’s gardens or are shading the coffee plantations. Years ago, exotic plants were used to shade the plantations. Since the project started, local farmers have gained awareness about using exclusive Cuban species and have been replacing the exotic ones.

Ten years after unveiling the mystery of Magnolia cubensis subsp. acunae, a team of Planta! assess the outcomes of this conservation project and sets ambitious goals, like preserving the forest where it grows…

In January and February of this year, 98 small plants of “mantequero” and 54 “sabina cimarronas” were taken to the field. We took 146 plants of Tabebuia sauvallei to Havana to plant them in the National Botanical Garden and several institutions’ gardens. The natural populations of this third species have recovered significantly. Now, we focus on raising awareness about this exclusive Cuban plant, which hopefully will soon be acknowledged by its beautiful dark red flowers (some call it red oak).

Piño and his family manage the most productive nursery of Topes de Collantes.

In January and February of this year, 98 plants of "mantequero" and 54 plants of "sabina cimarrona" were taken to the field.

We monitored farms and natural sites, including the Garden for “Coffee varieties”, one of the most visited tourist places in the area. We reached every plant planted by the team, measuring their height and diameter to keep track of their growth. In total, we monitored 866 plants in just two days of work. The second day, we had a special encouragement.

The canopy

As we headed to the field the second day, we enjoyed one of Topes’ best views: the canopy. Imagine appreciating the forest from above, suspended from a rope, “flying” among trees like many birds of the area.

The canopy of Topes de Collantes lets you recover the rainforest from above.

Coming back to Topes is always reassuring. Being able to meet with colleagues like Norlys and Piño, who have become family, enjoying the magnificent landscape in friends’ company, it still makes a difference. We can cover the forest from the canopy until it reaches the horizon, looking for those trees we have seen grow.

For over ten years, Planta! has been making a difference in conserving the threatened species of Topes de Collantes.

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