Tobacco farmer in Viñales
Steffi Lopez

University of Virginia Course Explores “Saving Nature” in Cuba

University of Virginia Course Explores “Saving Nature” in Cuba

Aug 11, 2016|NewsHigher Education| by Lindsay Taulbee

Earlier this year, University of Virginia students traveled to Cuba, where they visited national parks, private reserves, and urban farms to learn how the government, private organizations, and individuals have all played a role in conserving the island’s natural resources.

The trip, which was organized by Holbrook and was part of the university course “The Business of Saving Nature,” focused on the tradeoffs that often come from balancing economic and environmental concerns, especially in developing countries.

In particular, Cuba’s longtime political isolation has impacted the country’s approach to managing its natural resources. Economic crisis in the 1990s (a time known in Cuba as the "Special Period"), compounded by the U.S. embargo, limited access to key imports. Out of necessity many Cuban citizens turned to organic farming and eco-friendly practices.

According to professor and trip leader Mark White, “The country is home to countless endemic species, but these are seriously threatened by increasing population growth and development pressures. Thus, the preservation of biological diversity in these regions is dependent on the integration of conservation objectives into the framework of regional economic development, which requires a blending of our scientific and business understanding about these issues.”

Read more about the students’ experience in an article published in UVA Today here.