Alejandro de Humboldt National Park (AHNP) (Spanish: Parque Nacional Alejandro de Humboldt) is a national park in the Cuban provinces of Holguín and Guantánamo.
The largest and best-conserved remnant of forested mountain ecosystems in the Caribbean, AHNP is widely considered to be Cuba’s most important protected area for its extraordinary biodiversity values.
It is named after the German scientist Alexander von Humboldt who visited the island in 1800 and 1801. The park was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 for of its size, altitude range, complex lithology, landform diversity, and wealth of endemic flora and fauna.
The rivers that flow off the peaks of the park are some of the largest in the insular Caribbean. The park is said to be the most humid place in Cuba and this causes a high biological diversity. The park has an area of 274.67 sq miles, of which 264.76 sq mile land area and 8.74 sq mi marine area. El Toldo peak is 3,832 ft in elevation.
Due to the exposure to trade winds and the mountainous topography, the North Coast of Western Cuba is the country’s rainiest and coolest region. Important rivers, including the Toa River, Cuba’s largest river, rise in the forested mountains, boasting remarkable freshwater biodiversity. Next to various types of semi-deciduous broadleaf and pine forests there are xenomorphic shrub formations in drier areas and mangroves along the coast.
It is assumed that the area was a Pleistocene Refuge where numerous species have survived past periods of climate change. Jointly with the complex and varied geology and topography this helps explain the extraordinary biodiversity. Another particularity of the property is the toxicity of many of the underlying rocks to plants. This in turn is believed to have resulted in high adaptation pressure and the birth of an impressive number of often endemic plant species. Today, AHNP is among the most important sites in the Western Hemisphere for its endemic flora and one of the most biologically diverse tropical island sites on Earth.
With many new species likely to be discovered, AHNP boast an impressive list of more than 1,300 seed plants and 145 species of ferns, of which more than 900 are endemic to Cuba and more than 340 locally endemic, respectively. The degree of endemism of vertebrates and invertebrates is likewise extremely high. About a third of the mammals and insects, a fifth of the birds, and vast majority of the reptiles, and amphibians are Cuban or even local endemics.
16 of Cuba’s 28 endemic plant species are protected in the park including such fauna as Dracaena cubensis and Podocarpus ekman. Fauna present in the park includes various species of parrots, lizards, hummingbirds, the endangered Cuban solenodon (endemic), hutia and snails. As for the marine biodiversity the West Indian Manatee deserves to be noted as a flagship species.
Here is a video that includes scientific investigation of the park by scientist from the American Museum of Natural History.
Sources: Wikipedia, UNESCO