Major national park expansion for South America’s other big forest
Great news for the Gran Chaco, South America’s second largest forest and home to a host of rare and threatened species. This year, a major national park in Argentina will expand its size by almost 50% – benefiting both wildlife and local livelihoods.
By Mireia Peris
Traslasierra National Park – located in the northwest of Córdoba, Argentina and created in March 2018 – will add 17,000 hectares to the 27,000 it already has. This significant milestone will help protect an important part of the Gran Chaco, a hot, semi-arid forest which is home to immense biodiversity and historical heritage. After the Amazon, it is the biggest forest area left standing in South America, but is threatened by deforestation, cattle production and other human activities.
This habitat acts as natural refuge for about 200 species of birds, 34 mammals and 30 reptiles, some of which are rare and globally threatened with extinction. Traslasierra National Park plays host to threatened birds such as the Crowned Solitary Eagle Buteogallus coronatus (Endangered) and the Andean Condor Vultur gryphus (Vulnerable), which was moved to a higher threat category in the last year’s update to the IUCN Red List. Other rare species that will call this new paradise home include the Yellow Cardinal Gubernatrix cristata (Endangered), Turquoise-fronted Amazon Amazona aestiva and Chaco Owl Strix chacoensis (both Near Threatened).
Hernán Casañas, Executive Director of Aves Argentinas, mentions that expanding the territory of a national park is a “transcendent” step towards achieving the biodiversity conservation goals that should govern Argentina’s environmental policy. It will also help local people to earn a more sustainable living: “With the implementation of the Traslasierra National Park… an auspicious panorama opens up for Cordoba in terms of tourism, not only locally but also internationally… Córdoba can demonstrate that nature conservation and development go hand in hand,” says Casañas.
Through our partner Aves Argentinas, which has been part of the promotion and management of this project from the very beginning, the Wyss Foundation provided the necessary financial resources for the creation of the National Park, as part of a joint effort led by the Province of Córdoba and the National Parks Administration.
Of the 13,000 lmportant Bird & Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) identified by BirdLife worldwide, 277 are most severely under threat. Vital sites, such as Cambodia’s Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary, are home to globally threatened birds such as Giant Ibis and other IBA ‘trigger species’. They face the most intense pressures and need our urgent help.