The priorities of several institutions in Cuba regarding the recovery of sandy beaches, aquifers and preservation of soils to guarantee food production have become crucial.
As the Minister of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA) Elba Rosa Pérez Montoya said, in the last decade the effects of climate change have left reliable evidence such as the annual sea-level rise of 1.2 meters.
Thus, different government actions led by CITMA, have stop the felling of the mangrove by the community, and educational campaigns are planned in connection with the United Nations Small Grants Programme and the National Fund for Environment.
In this regard, the Cuba Ron Corporation dedicates part of its schedule to the care and preservation of areas where mangroves prevail in common areas with manufacturing spaces. In recent years, the value of mangroves as a tool for mitigation and adaptation to the impacts of climate change has been highlighted. These ecosystems provide goods and services; protect against sea-level rise and coastal erosion; regulate the quality of water; contribute to the recycling of nutrients, retention of sediments, provide the habitat for endangered or commercial marine species, as well as ensure provisions for many communities. They have also been recognized for their important role in carbon sequestration and for their potential as sources of CO2 emissions when they degrade.
Cuba Ron S.A. performs within its actions the restoration and rehabilitation of mangrove forests and coastal wetlands as an opportunity to maintain and increase the CO2 sequestration rate. These practices would allow an increase in biomass, as well as a retention and accumulation rate in the soil of the mangrove and swamp forest three times higher.
We have six years' experience in the UNDP international project “Reducing vulnerability to coastal flooding through Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (EbA) in the southern provinces of Artemisa and Mayabeque”, better known as Manglar Vivo. In these provinces, the project aimed to increase the resilience of the southern coastal communities of six municipalities to coastal erosion, floods and marine intrusion caused by climate change, through the recovery and restoration of humid forests and mangroves.
The restoration of coastal wetlands in the Caribbean region constitutes one of the ten goals, for the next decade, as an effort to halt the loss of biological diversity and its services.
In this context, coastal wetland restoration actions with the participation and cooperation of productive entities constitute an opportunity to guarantee the sustainability of the country's economic development. Under this premise and at the request of the Santa Cruz Rum Company, Cuba Ron S.A. this project will be intended to restore the mangroves and coastal wetlands of a sector of the Santa Cruz municipality, Mayabeque, with the intention of offsetting the CO2 emissions of the production process of this industry and contribute to its sustainability. Within five years, more than 6 hectares of coastal protective mangroves must be certified, which will contribute to the makeover plan of the Santa Cruz Rum Company, Cuba Ron S.A. In addition, a community awareness and environmental education programme will be executed. Likewise, it will favor the implementation of the strategic axes contemplated in the State Plan to confront Climate Change (Life Task) as well as provincial and municipal development plans.
The strategy has a well-defined goal in mind: the need to offset CO2 emissions in the production process of the Santa Cruz Rum Company, Cuba Ron S.A. following a schedule to restore coastal wetlands and increase services to the local population.
Finding the right balance between the environment, society and economy, is considered essential to satisfy the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. This has led to the industry, as the case of the Santa Cruz Rum Company, to adopt a systematic approach in relation to environmental management in terms of sustainable development, transparency and liability. These concepts have evolved within the context of increasingly strict legislations, in relation to environmental pollution, inefficient use of resources, inappropriate waste management, climate change, degradation of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity. This has also led to the adoption of a systematic approach related to environmental management through the implementation of standards such as NC ISO 14001 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS, whose objective is to provide a reference framework to protect the environment and respond to changing environmental conditions, in balance with socioeconomic needs. This standard specifies requirements that allow an organization to achieve the intended results established for its environmental management system.
As an interesting fact, since 2016 UNESCO declared July 26th as the Mangrove Ecosystem Day, in honor of an Indonesian activist. In Cuba we take this opportunity to disseminate information, such as the plans and objectives of the working community of the institution regarding the environment, but also to perform different activities in the communities to reduce coastal vulnerabilities to the effects of climate change.
* This article was written with the use of primary sources such as direct consultation with Melba Ybañez, Director of Quality of the Corporación Cuba Ron S.A., as well as with executives from the Santa Cruz del Norte manufacturing area.