Creating and Promoting Protected Areas in Argentina

A protected area is a tool for the long-term conservation of the biological and cultural diversity of a territory. It consists of geographically defined and delimited areas, which must be integrated with the surrounding territories to ensure biological connectivity (e. g. , through buffer zones or ecological corridors). They should also integrate local communities through participatory mechanisms, both at the time of creation and during implementation.

There are several management categories for protected areas, ranging from strict categories, which only admit research and control and surveillance, to less strict categories, which admit the sustainable use of natural resources. There are different governance schemes for the areas, as they can be administered by governments at their different levels (municipal, provincial, national), such as by private owners, indigenous or local communities, universities, or they can be co-managed by some of these administrators.

The creation of a protected area offers significant benefits for the care of biodiversity and ecosystem services. A protected area can protect key portions of watersheds (such as aquifer capture and recharge sites), contributing to the care of water for consumption and productive use in surrounding areas; protect key links in food chains, assisting in biological pest control and/or naturally regulating the emergence of zoonotic diseases; and preserve landscapes and cultural-natural sites that serve for the enjoyment, recreation and spiritual connection of visitors and local people. The development of sustainable tourism and recreational activities in these areas provides opportunities for local and regional socio-economic development.

Natura International is dedicated to promoting the creation of new protected areas in areas where Argentina’s biodiversity is threatened.

We work together with local communities and municipal, provincial and national governments, articulating with local NGOs and the scientific sector to achieve these key conservation objectives. We are committed to expanding the network of protected areas, which represents an extraordinary opportunity for the Argentine people and the world of conservation.

Sierra de Famatina

Since 2014, we have worked to create a protected area of over 200,000 acres in the Sierra de Famatina, an outstandingly beautiful area in the central Argentinian Andes. This wilderness area has high mountains and deep valleys contains significant plant and animal biodiversity. It is also very scenic, with mountains covered in snow rising over 18,000 feet elevation, and montane forest and vegetation at their base. The national government is receptive to the idea of a national park for this area, as are the local communities.

However, conservation of the area has been threatened by active plans to mine gold in the  Sierra de Famatina. We are working with the local communities to preserve the watershed and biodiversity values of the area, to demonstrate and enhance their economic potential, and to persuade politicians to establish a new Famatina National Park.

Mar Chiquita Lake and the Rio Dulce Wetlands

Natura’s office is actively working to create of a new national park in the rich, teeming marshes and lagoon of Mar Chiquita, South America’s largest salt lake, in. The proposed national park would cover two million acres of lands and waters. The lake and associated Rio Dulce wetlands are of global importance for colonial and migratory shorebirds, supporting more than 1% of the global population of a half-dozen species, and 5 to 50% of the population of the three Andean flamingo species. The remaining extensive wetlands are one of Córdoba’s last undeveloped regions. We are working with Aves Argentinas and local governments and communites so this spectacular area can soon become known as the Ansenuza National Park!

Natura works in these areas at several levels, all necessary for successful protected area establishment:

  • carrying out social work with local communities to identify and unify common goals, expectations, and benefits of national park creation;
  • conducting biodiversity surveys to document the areas’ species diversity, endemism and potential threats, and to expand datasets and bibliographic information used in reports justifying national park creation;
  • developing institutional partnerships and sign agreements with other organizations for better collaborative action;
  • working with partners, through agreements with the National Park Service and Aves Argentinas to advance the base report and the management of protected areas; and
  • carrying out workshops with local governments and communities on the different economic alternatives that can be carried out with the creation of a National Park.

Conservation Science

Wildlands research. We work to identify conservation opportunities to protect areas wildland areas, places where ecosystems are still characterized by natural processes and where native biodiversity is at its best. Our staff conducts biodiversity and watershed  inventories of these areas to bring their values into public view. The wild areas of South America constitute one of the most important reserves of biological diversity on Earth.

We have initiated a program of systematic mapping of wild lands and an assessment of their contribution to regional and global biodiversity. Other goal is to provide a rich source of information on protected wildlife areas and related biodiversity that can inform conservation initiatives at local, national and global scales.

Conservation of High Andean Flamingos and Wetlands. Natura International collaborates with the High Andean Flamingos Conservation Group (GCFA) to monitor and conserve the wetlands habitat for the three species of flamingos that inhabit the southern Andes of South America, the Chilean, Andean and James Flamingos The goal of this program is to achieve the sustainable and integrated management of high Andean wetlands and associated ecosystems import for their conservation. We hope to create a regional network of priority sites that include the full range of environments used by these species during its life cycle. Under this program, NI coordinates flamingo census in Salta province and aerial census in Mar Chiquita Lake.

Protecting the Andes and Chaco in Salta Province

Natura International is working with the government of Salta and other relevant local stakeholders to promote the participatory design of protected areas in natural and cultural landscapes of priority for conservation. These areas would protect a variety of ecosystems, ranging from rich Chaco forests in the lowlands up to high puna grasslands above 14,000 feet in altitude.

These areas contain many species of conservation interest, including endemics such as the Chacoan peccary and the Quebracho Crested-Tinamou, and endangered species such as the Taruca deer and the Andean Condor (both natural national symbols of Argentina). The areas contain relevant cultural heritage and are also important for human needs and wellbeing, as they protect the upper reaches of the watershed that provide drinking water to downstream communities, and protect indigenous lands.

Natura International facilitates and supports alliances and constructive dialogues with governments, indigenous peoples, local inhabitants, universities and municipalities, with the goal to achieve protected areas declarations through rightful participatory processes.