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Ambiente Sur supports the expansion of the Patagonia National Park

In defense of the Macá tobiano and a sustainable regional development The Asociación Ambiente Sur expressed its support for the expansion of the Patagonia National Park due to the imminent treatment of a law project presented in the Legislature of the Province of Santa Cruz that transfers the provincial jurisdiction to the Nation over lands in the provincial northwest in order to be used for the expansion of this national park.

In 2013, the Chamber of Deputies of the Province approved the law by which it transfers to the national state its jurisdiction over 19,000 hectares, which added to the 34,000 hectares. donated by the Flora and Fauna Foundation, allowed the sanction on December 17, 2014 of the law that created the Patagonia National Park, which was promulgated by the National Executive Power in January 2015.With the creation of the Park a sample was protected of an ecosystem, the Patagonian plateau and steppe, which was not represented within the protected areas of the National Parks.

Now, a parliamentary state in the Legislature of the Province of Santa Cruz took a bill that transfers provincial jurisdiction to the Nation over land in the northwest province with the sole purpose of being allocated to the expansion of this national park. The Asociación Ambiente Sur wants to express its support for this decision to expand a key protected area for the survival of the Macá-Tobiano, in coherence with our objectives as an organization and our trajectory. Since 2007, together with other organizations, Ambiente Sur has worked in the area for scientific and conservationist purposes, focusing on a unique species of our province, the Macá tobiano (Podiceps gallardoi), in Critically Endangered, which uses the lagoons of the Lake Buenos Aires Plateau in its reproductive stage, and which faces serious threats to its survival.

In 2009, Ambiente Sur, together with Ong Aves Argentinas, launched the Macá Tobiano Project, which carries out scientific actions and counts of the species, resuming the studies carried out in the 1980s after its discovery in 1974.

The project develops control measures in the field to ensure nesting and successful reproduction of the Maca tobiano, awareness actions with the nearby communities and together with the National Parks Administration, the Flora and Fauna Foundation and neighbors interested in biodiversity conservation of the region, supported and promoted the creation of the Patagonia National Park. The measures taken and the protection of the nesting area of the Maca tobiano are essential to ensure their reproduction, giving hope for their survival. The monitoring of the species makes it possible to suppose that its population decline has stopped, although the total is only around 800 individuals.

From Ambiente Sur we understand that the creation of the Park and now its expansion, provide the inhabitants of the region with an ecotourism resource that positions the brand in the northwest region of Santa Cruz in a sustainable way, generating more jobs in tourism and services that traditional activities, and will ensure the provision of invaluable environmental benefits for current inhabitants and future generations.

Conservation and sustainable development

From the point of view of tourism development, the National Park protects a unique natural and cultural heritage. The plateau of Lake Buenos Aires is a volcanic plateau that stands out for its great biodiversity and that includes endemic species (exclusive of an ecoregion) of flora and fauna, at the same time that it constitutes one of the last refuges of the Maca tobiano, Provincial Natural Monument , which could be declared in this category at the national level

On the other hand, the native peoples granted great symbolic value to the plateau. Evidence of its passage through the region was captured in enigmatic petroglyphs engraved on the volcanic stones, where it is considered that there are still unexplored archaeological sites, and its proximity to the Cave of the Hands, declared a World Heritage Site, adds a high value Each year it attracts thousands of visitors to the region through the tourist circuits on routes 40, 41 and 43, which are received in the towns of Los Antiguos, Perito Moreno, Bajo Caracoles and Lago Posadas. The project presented also includes the creation of the Cueva de las Manos Provincial Park and the transfer of land to the Nation for the expansion of the Perito Moreno and Los Glaciares national parks, further enhancing this tourist corridor. All this, in a setting of incredible scenic beauty that is also sought to protect.

Regarding the environmental services provided by the Park, nearby towns value the plateau as a water reserve, not only as a source of life but also as an indispensable provision for the development of other traditional productive activities in the region, such as livestock or production of cherries. From the water reserve that the National Park protects down streams, streams and springs that ensure the provision of water to a wide region, and other benefits such as pure air and a reservoir of seeds of native grasses and plants.

Ambiente Sur considers it important to clarify further that the project of cession of lands to the National State stipulates five years for the adjudication of these lands for the indicated objective, with clear conditions regarding the elaboration of management plans and work with the owners adjoining the Park. If this were not so in the stipulated period, the lands must be returned to the provincial jurisdiction.

Finally, we evaluate the trajectory and development of the national parks, added to the wills of civil society organizations, such as that represented by our Association, and of active citizens and those interested in conservation, the advances already registered regarding the management of the area in question and the visible increase in tourist activity in the area, allow to be enthusiastic about the benefits that the Park and its expansion will bring to the region but also to the country and the world, ensuring the preservation of a unique environment.

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