Future Iberá National Park
341,205 acres/138,140 hectares
Sometimes called “the Argentine Pantanal,” Iberá is one of the planet’s great freshwater wetlands, covering more than 3.2 million acres (1.3 million hectares) of grasslands and marsh in Corrientes Province of northeastern Argentina. The landscape supports fabulous wildlife including more than 360 species of birds. Doug and Kris Tompkins were introduced to the area’s biodiversity and conservation potential in the late 1990s. Since then, the Conservation Land Trust–Argentina and the Tompkinses personally have acquired more than 400,000 acres for pure conservation (parklands) and ecological agriculture purposes in the Iberá watershed.
The primary goal of the Iberá project is to expand and upgrade conservation protections for land within the Iberá Natural Reserve, a protected area designated by the province in 1983. The reserve is comprised of roughly 40 percent public land, 60 percent private property controlled by some 1,800 landowners. Through habitat acquisition, restoration projects, public outreach, and legal activism, the CLT–Argentina team has worked for some 15 years to strengthen the public core of the reserve, increase local support for conservation, defend the region against ecological threats, and augment and/or restore wildlife populations, especially of endangered or extirpated species. CLT biologists have successfully reintroduced giant anteaters (a native species that had been absent from the Iberá area for decades), have helped to bolster the population of pampas deer, and are working to restore jaguars and other missing species to the Iberá.
One key element of the conservation program is to demonstrate biodiversity-friendly management techniques on agricultural properties within the Iberá watershed. Consistent with a core-buffer-corridor model of landscape conservation, the various ranches owned by CLT in the watershed help buffer the core areas from negative outside influences, while also modeling good stewardship to fellow landowners. The ongoing work to expand wildlands, create broad public support for conservation, and support a vibrant agrarian economy has achieved significant progress on the way toward creating a possible future Iberá National Park that would contain its original species, including thriving populations of large carnivores such as jaguars, maned wolves, and giant otters.
For more information on the Iberá Project, visit www.proyectoibera.org