Priority sites for conservation

The West Indian endemic succulent flora occurs throughout the many islands of this dispersed archipelago. Nearly every island, or group of islands, has its own local Rather than a few large protected areas, the coverage of such a disperse flora, in terms of conservation needs, requires a number of small-sized sites:


1) Coast and lowlands from Guantanamo Bay to Punta Maisi: an important part of the south-eastern dry shrubwoods and semi-desert cactus communities with Agave spp., Plumeria spp., Cissus spp., and 18 species of Cactaceae distributed in 11 genera. This area can be identified as particularly outstanding for succulent conservation in the Caribbean.

Coastal limestone habitat with Stenocereus hystrix, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

2) Coast and lowlands of Baconao, sections El Indio-El Morrillo (Reserva de Santiago): another part of the south-eastern dry scrubwoods and semi-desert cactus scrubs including the type locality of the rare Leptocereus maxonii.

3) Coastal section between Pilón and Cabo Cruz: also in south-eastern Cuba. With some of the succulent species of the above mentioned areas, it also includes the entire site of occurrence of Leptocereus sylvestris.

4) Coastal terrace between Gibara and Puerto Padre bay: an important area of the north-eastern xerophytic plant communities. An undescribed subspecies of Opuntia nashii grows in this site, together with the giant Dendrocereus nudiflorus.

5) Coco, Paredón Grande, Romano and Sabinal cays: important Leptocereus santamarinae populations occur in some of the largest islets of the Camaguey Archipelago in northern Cuba. The cays are also inhabited by Opuntia millspaughii, Pilosocereus

(at the southern end of its distribution) and the rare Selenicereus brevispinus, a very restricted local endemic.

6) Santa Cruz del Sur lowlands: the savannas north to Santa Cruz, in southern Cuba (Camaguey province), have the largest populations of Pereskia zinniiflora of both sexes, male and female. This Cuban endemic is threatened by habitat destruction at its other locations.

7) Coast and lowlands from Playa Girón to Cienfuegos Bay, and from Cienfuegos to Trinidad: important for the local endemics Agave acicularis, A. grísea, and Leptocereus arboreus. The site also has Pilosocereus, Harrisia, Dendrocereus, Pereskia, Selenicereus, Hylocereus, and Opuntia species.

8) Eastern tip of Hicacos Peninsula, from Rincon Frances to the east end: the most outstanding area of northwestern xerophytic communities in Cuba. Important for populations of Pilosocereus robinii, Agave legrelliana, and Omphalea trichotoma. The site also has Dendrocereus.

Guanacahabibes Peninsula: part of the western dry shrubwoods with the rare Harrisia taetra.

10) Western haystack mountain complex of Sierra de los the whole karstic mountain range, in Pinar Rio province, should be an international conservation priority. It has mostly primary vegetation with Bombacopsis cubensis, Omphalea hypoleuca, Cnidoscolus spp., Cissus spp., Agave tubulata, and 11 species of cacti, two of which are yet undescribed.

11) Sierra de Anafe: an isolated limestone mountain range in Havana province, with Leptocereus leonii.

12) Sierra de Somorrostro and neighboring hills: this other site in Havana province is important for the highly endangered Leptocereus scopulophilus.

13) Sierra de Najasa: an interesting site in Camaguey province with Hildegardia cubensis and Leptocereus carina tus.

14) Jibacoa limestone-mountain area in Guamuhaya: steep cliffs inhabited with the local endemic Meloeactus perezassoi.

15) Dry serpentine shrubwood sites on rocky outcrops of the ophiolitic complex: there are four geographically unrelated sites each of which has its own endemic mostly occurring in small, restricted populations. These are:

a) Tres Ceibas (Havana prov.) with Meloeactus matanzanus, b) Agabama (Villa Clara prov.) with M. actinacanthus, c) Jatibonico (S. Spiritus prov.) with M. guitartii, d) Holguin (Holguin prov.) with M.holguinensis and Escobaria cubensis.


1) Lake Enriquillo Valley, encircled by Jimani-La Descubierta and Neiba-Duverge (Dominican Republic): a very important part of the south-western semi-desert cactus communities dominated by Leptocereus paniculatus, Stenocereus hystrix, and Opuntia

Because of its cactus richness and diversity (9 genera, 14 species) this area is of particular interest for succulent plant conservation in the Caribbean. Isla Cabritos National Park, a small island within Lake Enriquillo, gives insufficient protected coverage to this unique xerophilous flora.

2) Dry shrublands between Bani and Azua (Dominican Republic): another part of the cactus scrub of southern Hispaniola, with six different species of tia.

3) Coast and lowlands between Mole St. Nicolas and Port-de-Paix (Haiti, Dept. du Nord' Ouest): an important area of the north-western xerophytic communities with the local endemics Opuntia falcata, 0. ekmanii, 0.

and a probable undescribed species of Leptocereus. Knowledge of the status in the wild of these taxa is essential to determine their precise conservation needs.

4) Coast and lowlands of Barahona and Pedernales provinces (Dominican Republic): scarcely disturbed dry shrubwoods and semi-desert cactus scrubs with Dendrocereus undulosus. Other important cactus genera present are Opuntia, Leptocereus, Harrisia, Mammillaria, Pilosocereus, Stenocereus, and Meloeactus.

5) Coast and lowlands between La Romana and Cabo Engano, including Saona island (Eastern Dominican Republic): an interesting part of the southern dry communities with an undescribed taxon of Opuntia.

6) Dry lowlands south of Montecristi: the most important area of the north-western dry shrubwoods and semi-desert cactus communities of the Dominican Republic.

7) Coast and lowlands of Bayahibe (Dominican Republic): with the rare Pereskia quisqueyana.

8) Cerro de San Francisco, Banica (Elias Pina province, Dominican Republic): important for Pereskia marcanoi.

Puerto Rico:

1) Coast and lowlands from Bahia de Guayanilla to

Boqueron: the most important part of the dry shrubwoods and semi-deserts of the main island, with 12 species of Cactaceae, half of which are Opuntia. Mona and Monito Islands: a sanctuary for the Puerto Rican xerophytic communities, with the rare Harrisia portoricensis and a yet undescribed taxon of Opuntia. 3) South-eastern Culebra Island: the only site of occurrence of Leptocereus grantianus. Tetas de Cayey mountain ridge: an interesting rocky outcrop with an undescribed Melocactus taxon.


Hellshire Hills coastal and lowland area: an important part, south to Spanish Town, of the southern dry shrubwoods and semi-desert cactus communities with the endemics Opuntia spinosissima, 0. jamaicensis, Pilosocereus swartzii, and Melocactus caroli-linnaei.

Coast and lowlands from Treasure Beach to Little Pedro Point area: another part of the southern dry shrubwoods with Acanthocereus sp., in St. Elizabeth parish.

Cockpit Country: interesting karstic forests in Trelawny parish, with a rare Mammillaria species on vertical limestone cliffs.

The Bahama Archipelago:

1) Coastal areas and rocky plains of the Turks and Caicos

Islands: dry shrubwoods with Opuntia millspaughii, 0. bahamana, 0. lucayana, and Limonium hahamense.

2) Eleuthera Island rocky plains: important for Agave braceana, A. cacozela, and Pilosocereus bahamensis.

3) Great Inagua open sandy flats and rocky coastal coppices: with Agave inaguensis, A. nashii, and Pilosocereus millspaughii.

4) Long Island dry shrublands: important for Agave indaga tonim and Harrisia brookii.

The Lesser Antilles:

Northern Grand Terre of Guadeloupe: dry shrubwoods with Agave dussiana, Acanthocereus pentagonus, Opuntia rubescens, and 0. triacantha.

2) Barbuda lowlands: with Agave karatto, Manzmillaria nivosa, Melocactus intortus, and 0. rubescens.

3) South-eastern peninsula of St. Kitts: important for Agave van-grolae, Melocactus intortus, and Opuntia spp.

4) La Soufrière volcanic cone, St. Vincent: the only known site of occurrence of Selenicereus innesii. This rare species could have become extinct after the 1979 eruption.

5) Additional sites: Antigua, south-western area; Anegada, eastern lowlands and eastern central area; Virgin Gorda, central coast area; Martinique, southwestern area.

The Cayman Islands:

1) The Bluff area of Cayman Brae: with an undescribed variety of Epiphyllum phyllan thus, Opun tia millspaughii, and new taxa of Harrisia and Pilosocereus.

2) East End area of Little Cayman: part of the cactus scrub of the Caymans, with Opuntia, Harrisia, and Pilosocereus.

Table 3.17 Caribbean protected areas: number and area covered (in hectares) by IUCN category Category definitions are given in Box 2.4.


Cat. II


Cat. IV

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