Cuba - Environment
The Cuban government has formed several agencies to protect the environment. Among them are the National Parks Service, the National Commission of Environmental Protection and Rational Use of Natural Resources (1977), the National Environmental Education Program, the Academy of Sciences of Cuba, and the National Commission for the Protection of the Environment and for Conservation of Natural Resources. As of 2000, Cuba's most pressing environmental problems were deforestation and the preservation of its wildlife. The government has sponsored a successful reforestation program aimed at replacing forests that had gradually decreased to a total of 17% of the land area by the mid-1990s. Another major environmental problem is the pollution of Havana Bay. In 1994, Cuba had the seventh-largest mangrove area in the world. Altogether, 51% of the country's renewable water sources are used for agricultural purposes. About 95% of Cuba's city dwellers and 77% of its rural people have pure drinking water. In 1996 Cubans emitted 31.1 million metric tons of industrial carbon dioxide.
Endangered species in Cuba include the Cuban solenodon, four species of hutia (dwarf, Cabera's, large-eared, and little earth), two species of crocodile (American and Cuban), and the Cuban tree boa. In 2001, nine mammal species in a total of 31 were considered threatened. Thirteen bird species in a total of 137 were also threatened. Seven types of reptiles of 105 were endangered, along with 834 plant species out of a total of 6,000-plus. The ivory-billed woodpecker, Cuban red macaw, Caribbean monk seal, and Torre's cave rat have become extinct.