We present the results of the “Identification of Candidate Sites for the creation of national protected areas in the province of Catamarca”.
During September and October 2021, the National Park Administration (APN) and Natura Argentina teams worked on constructing a multi-criteria environmental assessment to identify Candidate Sites with high Conservation Values to create the first national protected area in Catamarca.
Given the declared interest on the part of the APN and the government of the province of Catamarca for the creation of the first Catamarca National Park, and the great diversity of ecosystems and landscapes that the province presents, a fruitful technical and collaborative work was undertaken to contribute to this process. The technical teams worked together, compiling available information on the environmental aspects of the provincial territory, layers of information related to land use, field data, and publications referring to biodiversity, among other sources, to carry out the analysis.
According to Cristina Casavecchia -advisor in planning and management of conservation and protected areas of Natura-: “Technical-scientific approaches like this are of great importance, to work on the strategic prioritization of potential sites to be declared as protected areas. Natura Argentina thus contributes with its work in this process and highlights the importance of inter-institutional collaboration, as is the case of this experience between APN and an NGO like Natura”.
Numerous technical coordination meetings and virtual workshops were held, in which professionals from both institutions participated, with different experiences relevant to the process. The main classification criteria were defined and weighed, specifically for each of the five ecoregions of the province of Catamarca: Monte de Sierras y Bolsones, Yungas, Chaco Seco, Puna and Altos Andes.
The fundamental criteria were linked to water, glaciers, vegetation and native forests, the impact of human activities and specific sites of importance for various species.
As a result of the multi-criteria analysis, the prioritized areas with an area greater than 10,000 ha were: 1) Salinas Grandes, 2) Bolsón de Pipanaco, 3) Seis Miles (north), 4) Aconquija Catamarca, 5) Seis Miles (south). It should be noted that the Sierras de Narváez are also positioned as a candidate site, although it is not among the 5 most relevant.
For the director of Natura Argentina, Lucila Castro, “the tools and results obtained in this work constitute a strategic input base for decision-making, related to the conservation values of the province of Catamarca and the Argentine Nation.”
We hope that, in future instances, more detailed evaluations will be developed jointly with key actors, on the feasibility of the Candidate Sites, or other proposed sites. For Castro, “the objective will be to achieve a proposal for a national protected area, technically robust, effective in representing ecoregions on a national scale, under a figure of protection, and that protects the natural and cultural heritage valued by the Catamarcan and Argentine community” .
Natura Argentina makes itself available to accompany the Government of Catamarca in seeking and jointly developing more detailed evaluations of the feasibility of the Candidate Sites, or other proposed sites, based on inter-institutional, collaborative, mixed cabinet, and fieldwork.