Multispecies reintroduction project in the Iberá Park, Corrientes, Argentina

Magalí Longo
Published: 08 April 2022
Last edited: 08 April 2022
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Summary

We apply the model of Full Nature, a virtuous cycle where protected areas with complete ecosystems become the basis for a restorative economy based in ecotourism, benefiting local communities, who will act as the main stewards of the parks.

The Great Iberá Park is a 700,000-ha with 550,000 composed by the Iberá Provincial Park, and 150,000 acquired, recovered and donated by our foundation to the Argentine state to create the Iberá National Park.

Through rewilding, locally extinct species with critical ecological roles including predators and herbivores are being reintroduced and consolidating numerically functional populations. This multispecies approach aims to reverse the crisis of biodiversity loss and climate change, by helping increasing carbon sequestration in these ecosystems.

By promoting “Iberá” as an ecotourism destination, it becomes an economic engine for local development. Thus, locals receive a tangible benefit from conservation, and become proud and protective of the protected area and its natural resources.

Classifications

Region
South America
Scale of implementation
Local
Ecosystem
Freshwater ecosystems
Grassland ecosystems
Temperate grassland, savanna, shrubland
Wetland (swamp, marsh, peatland)
Theme
Ecosystem services
Local actors
Mitigation
Outreach & communications
Protected and conserved areas governance
Protected and conserved areas management planning
Restoration
Species management
Sustainable financing
Sustainable livelihoods
Traditional knowledge
Other theme
Rewilding
reintroductions
Species Conservation and One Health Interventions
Species Monitoring and Research
Invasive Species Management/Removal
Species Intensive Management (in situ or ex situ)
Species Conservation Translocations
Challenges
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Wildfires
Ecosystem loss
Invasive species
Sustainable development goals
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 9: Invasive alien species prevented and controlled
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas
Target 12: Reducing risk of extinction
Target 13: Safeguarding genetic diversity
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 17: Biodiversity strategies and action plans
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources

Location

Corrientes, Argentina

Challenges

General challenges

- Soursing initial population nuclei with captive bred animals imply a challenge for them to adapt to life in freedom.

 

Social challenges

- Initially, the project which involved purchasing former cattle ranches to transform them in to protected areas generated a skeptical reaction in general public, and even translated into a national law that forbid strangers to purchase lands in Argentina. The later donation of these lands to the national government to create a National Park which currently generates local benefits, helped dispelling the initial opposition.

- The transition from a traditional passive conservation, to an active ecosystem management caused negative reactions in stakeholders, such as wildlife authorities, academia, NGOs, etc. Reintroductions were not common in Argentina, and carrying out several species reintroductions generated a disapproval supported by common arguments.

Beneficiaries

- Local communities benefit from Iberá's restoration, by provinding them a sustainable economic source through ecotourism, bringing also opportunities to women and youngs

- People also benefits from healthy ecosystems, which help reducing climate change effects

How do the building blocks interact?

Through the creation of protected areas wich can be either created by or donated to federal and provincial governments we guarantee the protection of land portions of lands. In these lands, ecosystems restoration takes place, mainly by reintroducing species that were locally extinct, if that is the case, or working in increasing populations of species that are low in numbers due tu previous human causes, as well as controlling exotic species and reducing other threats. Most often, we work with species deemed to have large impacts at the ecosystem level, such as large predators and herbivores. Along with ecosystem restoration, the development of public use infrastructure, capacity building and publicity to create an economy based on ecotourism in needed for creating an economic incentive to conserve native wildlife and habitats. Once local recognize the bennefits of having a protected area nearby, they will be the ones defending it and being proud of their natural and cultural heritage.

Impacts

- 158,000 hectares (390,000 acres or 616 square miles) of lands and infrastructure for public use donated to the nation to create the Iberá National Park.

- nine species ongoing reintroductions, among them, collared peccaries (Pecari tajacu), giant anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), Pampas deer (Ozotoceros bezoarticus), red-and-green macaws (Ara chloropterus), bare-faced curassows (Crax fasciolata), jaguars (Panthera onca), giant otters (Pteronura brasiliensis), ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) and red- legged seriemas (Seriema crestata) are already or in process to be reintroduced in Iberá.

- Iberá scenic route with 10 access gateways to the Iberá Park

- + 40,000 tourists visiting the Iberá Park in 2021in search of wildlife, making ecotourism the fastest growing economic activity in the region, and the main source of job opportunities in at least one of the neighboring communities.
- 264 million metric tonnes of sequestered carbon

 

 

Story

Matías Rebak

Omar Rojas is a local villager who worked all his life with cattle. For more than 30 years, he lived in the San Alonso island, in the core of the Iberá wetland as foreman of a cattle ranch with hundreds of cows. After the island was purchased by Fundación Rewilding Argentina in 1997, Omar stayed a little bit longer and then decided to move to his own land to keep on working with his cattle. Progressively, cattle was removed from San Alonso where reintroduction projects started to be carried out, including the return of the giant anteater, the Pampas deer, the collared peccary, the giant otter and the jaguar. At the same time, Iberá started to become an ecotourism attraction, and more and more people started visiting the area in search of wildlife and traditional culture. Thus, with his expereicne, Omar started offering tourists horseriding excursions which even included swimming with horses, as he used to do years before to move cattle from the island to the mainland. These excursions became more and more popular, and Omar is currently living almost from ecotourism. This year, Omar and his wife Antonia, visited San Alonso, where they could see the first jaguars roaming free in Iberá, after more than half a century. After the encounter with the jaguar, he expressed he couldn not ask for anything else in his life.

Contributed by

taliazamboni_41372's picture

Talía Zamboni Fundación Rewilding Argentina