Patagonia is a sparsely populated ecoregion at the southern end of South America. It stretches across approximately 190 million acres in Chile and Argentina. It is well-known for its natural, cultural, and economic importance to those countries, Latin America, and the world.
The major geological transformations that took place millions of years ago gave Patagonia its striking landscape, lakes, and rivers. The region is home to an incredible variety of wildlife and plants and the habitat of an incredible array of bird species, such as the Andean condor and the black-chested buzzard eagle.
Almost two-thirds of Patagonia is in Argentina, where it's surrounded by the Andes Mountains on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Tablelands, deserts, and steppes compose the landscape, making for stunning mountain scenery and the largest expanse of temperate grassland in South America.
TNC considers Patagonia one of Latin America's Iconic Places. Given its unique topography, it offers an opportunity to deliver high-impact, significant outcomes for biodiversity, climate, and sustainable development. But a serious problem haunts Patagonia: Desertification.
Today, 70 percent of the Patagonia steppe is suffering from different degrees of desertification. It erodes and degrades the soil, making it unable to sustain life. The over 100 years of unsustainable sheep-grazing has more than taken its toll. But despite these alarming numbers, Patagonia remains one of the last pristine environments on earth.
We need to find a balance between safeguarding livelihoods and a way of life and protecting the grasslands vital for our planet's health.