The Southern Cone of South America is home to the unique natural grasslands of the Pampa biome that stretches across Uruguay and into Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.
The introduction of cattle in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries began a sustained change to the biodiversity of grasslands. Once roaming in their millions, Pampas deer populations were now missing from large areas of the region and through overgrazing the depletion of grasslands meant the loss of habitat for many species of birds.
More intensive production, like agriculture and forestry, has caused even greater destruction of natural grasslands. This change in land use has increased significantly in recent years with the rise in value of agricultural products, led by soybeans and corn, and afforestation, mainly with eucalyptus and pine trees. It is estimated that one million hectares annually are transferred from ranching to more intensive production, at the expense of natural grasslands in the Southern Cone.
The natural grasslands are home to 540 species of birds, 12 of which are globally threatened. Among these are species are migratory birds that make their annual journey from the North American prairies to winter in the pampas grasslands of South America.
Recognizing the global importance of conserving natural grasslands for biodiversity, BirdLife International with its partners in the Americas decided that they must do more to promote conservation action in the Southern Cone.
In 2006, they launched the first South American regional initiative for the conservation of natural grasslands: the “Southern Cone Grasslands Alliance”, led by BirdLife International and executed through local partners Aves Argentina, Guyra Paraguay, SAVE Brazil and Aves Uruguay.
The central objective of the Alliance is to promote the conservation of the natural grasslands of the Southern Cone of South America.
Vision and Mission
The Vision of the Southern Cone Grassland Alliance:
A region of the grasslands of the Southern Cone of America, where:
"Livestock farming becomes a more vigorous and profitable activity, developed in a sustainable way, by favoring the conservation of grasslands under adequate grazing systems.
Agriculture and afforestation are carried out in a responsible manner, with careful treatment of soils and waters, prudent management of agrochemicals, and allowing the existence of sufficient areas for native wildlife of the grasslands.
Urban growth repairs the pampas landscape guaranteeing the conservation of natural grasslands.
Officially recognized protected areas include at least 10% of the original natural grasslands in each country and are duly instrumented for the effective fulfillment of their function.
And where the traditional culture of the pampas has a relevant space of consideration in our societies”.
The Mission clearly defines the raison d'être of the Alliance, the element that unites its members and friends: the conservation of the grasslands of the Southern Cone and its biodiversity. All the actions of the Alliance will revolve around this statement.
"Conserve natural grasslands and their biodiversity in the Southern Cone of South America through coordinated actions between the four countries (Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina), and between sectors of society (producers, civil organizations, academia and governments), within the framework of a harmonious and sustainable development of the region”.
“To become a broad and reliable platform for conservation organizations, academic institutions, rural unions and associations, governments and society in general, for the development of projects, promotion of policies, development of scientific research, support to rural producers for employment of good practices for sustainable productive management, and to be a concrete stimulus for the conservation of natural grasslands and their biodiversity, within the natural grasslands of the Southern Cone of South America (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) ”.
- Gather criteria, wills and actions of various social sectors (conservation, rurality, academia, politics), from the four countries of the region in search of the sustainable development of natural grasslands.
- Create awareness and commitment in society about the relevance of conserving the natural attributes of grasslands and their associated rural activities.
- Promote scientific research.
- Identify, publish and stimulate good rural practices for productive conservation management.
- Stimulate the training and education of technicians capable of transferring knowledge and good practices for productive conservation management to producers.
- Certify or endorse rural products that contribute to the conservation of the grassland and its biodiversity.
- Manage financial resources to design and execute projects for the conservation and sustainable use of grasslands in the region.
- Function as a project management platform, compatible with the spirit of the Grassland Alliance.
- Contribute to the establishment of State Policies (at different levels, provincial, state, federal and even regional) for the conservation of grasslands, their biodiversity and sustainable rural practices.
Donors are public or private institutions that contribute financially towards Grassland Alliance’s objectives.
The current donors of the Grassland Alliance are: