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Patagonia’s Important Grasslands

The word 'Patagonia', like Mandalay or Timbuctoo, has lodged itself in our imagination as a metaphor for The Ultimate, the point beyond which one could not go.”—Bruce Chatwin

Also known as the steppe, the vast arid and semi-arid grasslands of Patagonia are in a remote area at the southern tip of South America. Characterized by its dry climate, strong winds and long, cold winters, Patagonia receives very little annual rainfall. Many hardy shrubs and grasses do, in fact, grow in this rigorous environment – as do many animals, such as the gray fox, the rhea, the Andean condor, and keystone species like the guanaco and puma. 

Unfortunately, grasslands are among the least protected and fastest converted areas across the globe, and those in Patagonia are no exception. As this remote wilderness becomes increasingly accessible, the grasslands – and the livelihoods of its inhabitants – are threatened by: 

  inadequate or unsustainable grazing practices;

   increasing subdivision of the land;

   development of energy resources, and

   a lack of standardized regulations for managing freshwater resources. 

Combined with the harsh climate and inadequate protection, these grasslands are facing a rapid process of desertification. In fact, the latest studies show that up to 70 percent of land in Patagonia suffers from some degree of erosion or desertification - of which, more than 30 percent has already been heavily degraded from its natural condition.

Creating awareness and working together:

The Conservancy employs a unique approach that integrates flora, fauna, soil, air and other environmental components with the functions they provide – such as water quality, climate and nutrient cycling and as well as productive​​, aesthetic, cultural and recreational values.

We are working to ensure the long-term sustainability of 16 million hectares of temperate grasslands in Argentina by 2030 through two primary strategies, Working Landscapes and Smart Infrastructure:

Working Landscapes:

Most land in Patagonia is privately owned and landowners are interested in incorporating new approaches to preserve their land – and their livelihoods – in perpetuity. We are working together to incorporate better land management activities, improve grazing practices, implement sustainable agriculture concepts and introduce conservation easements in critical areas. We are also working to improving watershed management throughout Patagonia, through the creation of regulatory frameworks with local authorities.  Learn more...

Smart Infrastructure:

With a growing national demand for energy, Argentina is facing the inevitable extraction – and resulting environmental consequences – of its vast reserves of non-conventional oil and gas. Using an approach called Development by Design, we identify effective mitigation options that balance development with conservation needs. Learn more...


 

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