Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cuba’s growing private sector is hungry for flora and fauna

Cuba's growing private sector is hungry for flora and fauna
TUESDAY, 22 APRIL 2014 20:01

CUBA--The lack of markets to supply raw materials for Cuba's new private
sector, along with the poverty in isolated rural communities, is
fuelling the poaching of endangered species of flora and fauna. The
socialist government of Raúl Castro gave the green light in 2010 to
private enterprise in a limited number of activities, mainly in the
services sector.
However, without wholesale markets to supply the 455,000
"cuentapropistas" – officially registered self-employed people –
unforeseen phenomena soon appeared, like the rise in poaching and
illegal logging.
Forests, which cover just under 29 percent of the territory of this
Caribbean island nation, are suffering the consequences.
"You can get a permit to work as a carpenter, but it's hard to get the
raw materials," Antonio Gutiérrez, a carpenter who works at a saw mill
in the Ciénaga de Zapata, the largest Caribbean island wetland, told
Tierramérica. "You can also build more homes or upgrade homes. People
need boards, windows, everything...and to solve the problem, they go
into the bush and cut."
The forest ranger corps levied 19,993 fines last year for a total of US
$125,000, and seized 2,274 metres of wood. Although there are no
statistics on wood confiscated in previous years, the authorities say
illegal logging is on the rise. "That's confiscated mahogany and oak,"
said Gutiérrez, pointing to a pile of thin tree trunks on the ground.
"Those trees had a lot of growing to do to become real logs." He
maintained that more wood should be sold to people in order to safeguard
forests from illegal logging.
Agriculture Ministry Forestry Director Isabel Rusó told the press in
March that the law in effect since 1998 provides for fines that are not
effective in dissuading illegal logging. She also said private
businesses either have to face a sea of red tape to purchase wood from
state-owned companies or buy wood on the black market. A new forestry
bill is to be introduced in Parliament in 2015.

Source: The Daily Herald -Cuba's growing private sector is hungry for
flora and fauna -

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