Better connected to preserve better

The meeting “Conservation of Biological Diversity in Cuba” has been celebrated since 2012. Organized every year by the Cuban Society of Botany, Planta!, and the Cuban Society of Zoology, the event offers a multidisciplinary opportunity to share Cuban Biodiversity conservation experiences.


Date: 28/09/2020


Organizing the meeting is challenging. This year we received over 70 presentations. Many young researchers and students participate, for which we organize a contest of presentations as an homage to my colleague and friend Luis Granado. As one of the meeting’s coordinators, I always describe it as small enough to be achievable but big enough to connect people working on different topics.


In only two days, attendees can get an idea of where the studies on Cuban Biodiversity are focused. The meeting has a single session of 5 min presentations, which is quite different from other events where topics organize several simultaneous sessions. At this event, you could attend presentations about fisheries, or the pollination of an endemic plant, or permaculture, or threatened cacti. The event’s mission has always been to promote collaboration based on similar interests and differences.

The meeting "Conservation of Biological Diversity in Cuba – 2020" welcomed over 70 attendees.

Inclusive and attractive

This year there were a few changes when organizing the event. While keeping it inclusive, a committee was created to review the abstracts received and select the best candidates. We also increased the keynote speeches from two to four, choosing topics with a strong and current social impact.

The meeting started with the speech of our colleague Marcel Montano from the National Museum of Natural History. He always captivates the audience with his interesting talks. This time, he spoke about evolutionary discrepancies and their implications for human health. The excitement his speech generated confirmed he was a perfect choice for the opening. Another interesting speech was that of Professor Lourdes Mujica from the Biology Faculty of the University of Havana. She talked about bird conservation at the National Botanical Garden. Over 100 species have been reported living in the trees of this institution!

Prof. Lourdes Mujica reported over 100 bird species at the National Botanical Garden.

Beyond the classic works of ecology and conservation that are always the majority, we had a more integrating approach this year. For the first time, we had a journalist –Leslie Salgado, whose presentation addressed how its profession supports Biodiversity conservation. On the other hand, the philologist Ysabel Muñoz analyzed the presence of Nature in Cuban literature and how it could inspire people towards conservation. Another presentation showed marine species used in art crafts and cooking in Havana and the implications of these practices on the species’ risk of extinction.

Our friends from the protected areas

It was hard for Maritza Deroncelé to summarize her years of experience in only five minutes, which is the event’s norm. She works at the Ecologic Reserve “El Retiro” in Santiago de Cuba, and she is one of the three technicians from protected areas that participated in the meeting. Armando Legrá from Baitiquirí (South of Guantanamo) and Ernesto Palacios from the National Park “Desembarco del Granma” were also among the attendees. All three of them work passionately in our project conservation of threatened cacti.

Planta!’s volunteer’s passion for conservation makes a whole forest grow. José Angel, Duniel and Sandy take part in the propagation of threatened species at nurseries of four Eastern Cuba provinces….

Technicians from the protected areas work daily, preserving Biodiversity in Cuba, mostly in an anonymous way. They know better than anyone how the forest works. They shared their experiences with students, professors, and researchers, to whom they proudly presented their results.

Permaculture - complementary paradigms

If asked what the most relevant moment of the event was, I would say the speech of Cary Cruz, from the “Antonio Nuñez Jiménez” Foundation, about permaculture in Cuba. When she speaks, she does not use those citations that usually accompany our presentations: she speaks from experience. From the philosophical foundation of permaculture, she showed us the importance of applying scientific knowledge to all aspects of our lives. She also applied permaculture to biodiversity conservation.

“Permaculture brings a different approach to conservation, taking many researchers and conservationists out of their comfort zone. Planta! has taught us that integrating knowledge is vital for success, and in this case, I am sure that permaculture is the base for a sustainable future, a real one.”

Diana Rodríguez Cala


Meeting “Conservation of Biological Diversity in Cuba – 2020”

The meeting helps to echo how much Cuban researchers are doing in terms of Biodiversity conservation. Sometimes there is not much information about it, yet it is still happening. For our next meeting in 2021, Sergio proposed to create a map of Cuba, highlighting all the sites where active conservation is taking place. This way, every team will be able to see each other – and somehow- to connect.

Cary Cruz's speech about permaculture was one of the most relevant moments of the meeting.

The Foundation "Antonio Nuñez Jiménez" promotes permaculture in Cuba.

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