(1822 - 1895)
Ingeniero español. Miembro fundador de la Real Academia de Ciencias Médicas, Físicas y Naturales de la Habana, en 1861, donde presentó la mayor parte de los resultados de la labor de investigación realizada durante su residencia en Cuba.
From 1959 Onwards The Revolutionary Period
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In 1968, a geological stocktaking of Cuba (with close collaboration from institutions of the socialist bloc and coordinated by the Geology Institute) began, it was very important for geological-mining prospecting, which could produce - in 1975 - a geological map on a 1:250,000 scale. Cuba was practically the first country in Latin America to have such a greatly detailed geological stocktaking (it came to be fully completed in 1988).

By that time too, the genetic study of Cuban soils began (coordinated by the Soils Institute of the Academy and supported by the Soils Institute of the People's Republic of China), which produced -- in 1971 -- the first genetic classification of Cuban soils, which resulted four years later in the edition of a map on a 1: 250,000 scale, of great importance for farming. In this initial stage, Soviet and French advising was provided. By conducting these works, Cuba ranked in the vanguard of American countries as regards systematic study of soils.

In 1967, the work of describing - from the geological, chemical and biological standpoint - the resources of the Cuban insular shelf began, most of this work was finalized in 1981. It was coordinated by the Oceanology Institute of the Academy, in collaboration - mostly - with Soviet institutions.

On the other hand, the academic institutes dedicated to zoology and botany (which are grouped currently into a single institution: the Institute of Ecology and Systematics) gathered almost all important collections existing in the country, created new animal and plant collections, and edited the serial publications Poeyana and Cuban Botanical Act , which reached international prestige. Also, several important monographs on Cuban animal and plant groups were published, such as the Catalog of Living and Extinct Antillean Mammals (1974), by Luis Sánchez Varona (1923-1989). On the other hand, Havana University created an institution responsible for studying flora, the National Botanical Garden , which started to work in 1968 and is in charge of editing a new Cuban flora, in collaboration with other institutions.

By implementing the aforementioned projects, hundreds of Cuban researchers and technicians were trained. We must highlight too that this group of institutions and their researchers had a great impact on preserving the natural resources of the country.

Since the sixties, there were several specific projects on natural resource conservation and rehabilitation; out of them, those concerned with reforestation are worth mentioning. As per official data corresponding to 2001, 22.8% of the Cuban surface is covered by forests, and this figure is expected to rise up to 27%. In 1959, the figure was around 14%. So as to back up this reforestation program, the Center for Forest Research and Training under the Ministry of Agriculture was created in the mid-sixties.

Another program that was carried out intensively (mostly after Hurricane Flora, 1963) was the one named "of hydraulic willpower". There were only 13 small reservoirs in the country and almost no other work that could help reduce the impact caused by the rainfall brought about by hurricanes and, in turn, reserve water for human consumption, agriculture and industry. In 2004, there were already 241 reservoirs that store around 9 million m 3 of water and can deliver over 7 millions a year, some 730 microdams, and other related works.

In the eighties, the outline of a comprehensive policy on environment conservation and rational use in Cuba was begun. In 1981, a law was promulgated for these purposes and substituted in 1997 for another, more concise law, which was based too on the experience accumulated so far. A major role in encouraging this policy was played by the chairperson of the Academy of Sciences and later Minister of Science, Technology and Environment, Rosa Elena Simeón (1943-2004). Nowadays, over 16,000 km 2 of the Cuban territory (approximately 15% of all Cuban land) are included in the most protection-providing categories: biosphere reserves, national parks, and ecological reserves.

Also in the sixties, the Academy of Sciences developed two important national services related to protecting the environment and men's lives and work: the meteorological and the seismic services. Though meteorological observation had been carried out in Cuba since the later 18 th century, during the neocolonial period no national stations system had been organized, and much work relied on volunteer observers; moreover, observations were shared out in 9 different institutions, two of which, the National Observatory and the Belén College , frequently contradict themselves. During the revolutionary period, the National Meteorological Service was created with minimum expenditure by the State, said Service being centered upon the Meteorology Institute (the former National Observatory). Thanks to the support of the World Meteorological Organization and the USSR Hydometeorological Service (and the volunteer work of the young Cuban meteorologists, who turned constructors), thirty stations of the first order and twenty of the second order were installed. Later on, meteorological radars were installed. When organizing the national meteorological system and the teaching of this specialty, an outstanding role was played by the director of the Meteorology Institute, Mario Rodríguez Ramírez (1911-1996), who also authored a theory on the origin of hurricanes.