Saving High Andean Wetlands for Nature and People

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Case study

Wetlands International in Argentina has initiated a five-year programme to save High Andean Wetlands for nature and people to support their unique biodiversity and the livelihoods of the communities that depend on them.

High Andean wetlands are of key value for local economies, including pastures for llamas and alpacas, peat for fuel and food resources to local communities, and represent an invaluable cultural heritage. Their associated peatbogs are valuable CO2 capture and storage sinks. Centuries of human activities have affected these ecosystems. Pressures include unrestricted livestock grazing, effects from the climate change, and pollution from past and ongoing extensive mining activity.

Lake Guyatayoc

 

From April 2017 until the beginning of 2019, we have developed a pilot phase working together with the communities of Pozuelos Lagoon in Argentina and Junin Lake in Peru to identify and reduce threats that affect these High Andean wetlands. As a result of our actions in both sites, more than 270 families have participated in the programme implementing better livestock grazing practices in 6,690 hectares and more than 76 hectares of wetlands are under management with restoration actions.

Sites we will work on.

In this second phase starting recently, the five-year programme aims to improve the conservation status of five threatened High Andean wetland systems of great importance for biodiversity and local communities: Junin Lake and Carampoma-Marcapomacocha in Peru, and Pozuelos Lagoon, Salinas Grandes-Guayatayoc Lagoon and Wetlands of the Altiplano of Catamarca in Argentina.

In the next five years we will continue working with the communities through a participatory and inclusive process for sustainable grazing for cattle, restoring wetland habitat and advocating for better wetland management. We will work to ensure that the mining operations comply with the legal, social and environmental standards in collaboration with local communities, governments and companies. In particular, our efforts will be focused on Salinas Grandes-Guayatayoc Lagoon and Altiplano of Catamarca in Argentina that face imminent threats from lithium mining. We will work with our partners to catalyse a 10-year regional initiative as well.

If we can redirect the trajectory of these sites and point them towards a healthier future, then we believe that we can also provide a blueprint that can be applied to many other locations in the region to replicate.

Saving High Andes Wetlands is a Wetlands International programme financed by DOB Ecology. Our partners are ECOAN in Peru, and FARN and YUCHAN in Argentina.