ÁREA PROTEGIDA MIL CUMBRES
Description. A reserve in western Cuba, protecting western Cuba's highest mountains rising to 799 m above sea level. On the south side of the reserve are the gardens and ruins of a remarkable mansion together with turreted entrance portals, all abandoned by the owner at the time of the revolution. The reserve headquarters is also the location of the sawmill associated with the protected area's sustainable forestry enterprise. The main field station is a beautiful old timber coffee-planter's house in a lovely situation. Administered by the Empresa Nacional para la Protección de la Flora y la Fauna, Cuba.
Biodiversity. Different parts of the protected area is devoted to sustainable forestry and public recreation, with a central area strictly preserved. The serpentine soils in this region, where a new field station has just been established, contain a high diversity of plants. Many endemics are also found on Pan de Guajaibón, western Cuba's highest mountain. Some work has been begun on studying the fungi and myxomycetes of the reserve, but a checklist is not yet available.
At the entrance to the protected area
The old planter's mansion field station
Problems. Illegal hunting and felling, lack of hard currency resources and poor signposting on the reserve are all problems suffered at Mil Cumbres along with so many other protected areas in Cuba. In addition, débris left behind by the military litters significant parts of the reserve, most notably the starting point and the track up Pan de Guajaibón and its summit area. Ruined buildings abandoned during Cuba's "special economic period" have the potential to be restored to serve as a field station and centre for ecotourists, and plans have been drawn up for this, but funding has yet to be found. Development of ecotourism at the main field station has made some progress, but infrastructural problems, such as poor telephone lines, are strictly limiting progress.