Patagonia Grasslands Project

Protecting the flora and fauna in Patagonia

The  Grasslands of Patagonia span about 230 million acres and are among the most threatened, most damaged and least protected habitats in the world. As part of TNC´s global challenges, Patagonia was selected to be one of the 15 landscapes with real opportunities for large-scale protection and restoration.

The argentine Patagonia region is rich in aquatic resources. Unfortunately, the realities of population growth, urban and industrial development, and livestock and agriculture impact are taking a toll on these precious ecosystems.

Desertification from inadequate-grazing is a major threat to the Patagonian Grasslands. The Nature Conservancy, Patagonia Inc., and Argentine rancher network Ovis XXI, established a ground-breaking partnership to reverse over 100 years of inadequate grazing practices in 15 million acres of Patagonia’s iconic grasslands.

Desertification threatens not only ranchers and their livelihoods, but also this iconic ecosystem. Patagonia is home to an extense array of wildlife, like the guanaco, a relative of the llama.

Choique, or Darwin's Rhea, is a large flightless bird that lives in Patagonia.

Sheep herding is one of the Patagonia region’s main economic activities. It is also the grassland’s greatest threat. Unsustainable grazing is turning 20 million acres, the equivalent of 10 Yellowstone national parks, into deserts, threatening ranching and native wildlife.

The new grazing protocol "GRASS" introduced by the Conservancy and Ovis XXI sets the goals to achieve the protection and restoration of Patagonia´s grasslands and it´s unique and fragile environment. When flock sizes, lands, and streams are properly managed, ranchers, sheep, native plants and animals can thrive together.

The Halliday family has been working with sheep in Hill Station ranch since 1884. They were amongst the first ranchers to work with sustainable grazing in the area.

Sheep calfs being worked at Hill Station ranch.

Classic lunch time at Hill Station ranch.

Ricardo Fenton, patagonian rancher growing sustainable wool. One of the co-founders of OVIS XXI, he sheers his sheep by hand, and gets premium wool.

OVIS XXI manager Pablo Borrelli, and TNC scientist Chris Pague, looking into a brighter future for Patagonia.

“ people can feel good, knowing that by wearing Patagonia Inc. products they are contributing to the regeneration of the Patagonian grasslands. We have often sought to be sustainable but this is the first time we have actually been able to improve an environment by placing business there”, Jill Dumain/Patagonia Inc.

"...Patagonia is home to a great ranching heritage and the ranchers we’ve been talking to are open to adopting conservation practices,” said Chris Pague, scientist with The Nature Conservancy. “By working together we can ensure that future generations will still know Patagonia as a wild place at the edge of the Earth.”


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