Land and Resources, Environmental Issues
Coastal pollution, banana trees, danger of extinction, wildlife populations, soil erosion
Some of Cuba’s natural resources are in danger of extinction. Over the years, Cuba has exported sugarcane as its main commodity. As a result, sugarcane has replaced natural flora and fauna. For example, over 30 different kinds of bananas grew on the island before 1959, but most of the banana trees have been replaced by sugarcane. Cuba experiences little air pollution because sea breezes move airborne pollution off the island. The island’s crops and animals have been affected by pests and diseases introduced from abroad, particularly the blue mold fungus and swine flu. Coastal pollution and excessive hunting also present severe threats to wildlife populations.
Although Cuba was once almost entirely forested, by the late 1950s only 14 percent of the country remained under forest cover. As a result of reforestation efforts, this figure had risen to 16.8 percent by 1995. Reforestation efforts are still under way. Deforestation and agriculture contribute to soil erosion, another environmental challenge in Cuba. Agriculture is vital to Cuba’s economy. Cuba’s integrated pest management program, an alternative to pesticide use, has made environmental gains while maintaining agricultural output and reducing costs.
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