Gauchos and grass: protecting Argentina′s Pampas | Global Ideas | DW | 14.07.2015
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Gauchos and grass: protecting Argentina's Pampas

Just 1 percent of Argentina's grassland is currently protected. In the northeastern part of the country, conservationists are working with gauchos to protect the Pampas.

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Project aim: Protect the habitat of grassland birds and the Argentinian Pampas.
Implementation: Conservationists and ranchers have founded an alliance for the protection of grasslands ("Alianza del Pastizal"). The gauchos are promising to graze their cattle in as sustainable and environmentally-friendly way as possible, and let nature take over part of their land. In return, the non-governmental organization Aves Argentinas is helping with grasslands management and ecotourism.
Biodiversity: The Argentinian Pampas is a complex ecosystem that includes species such as the Nandu flightless bird, and the now extremely rare pampas deer. It is also home to as many as 400 species of bird, including the endangered saffron-cowled blackbird.
Project size: The project covers the grass and savanna landscapes of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil. In Argentina, 70 ranchers have joined the alliance.

Thanks to its humus-rich and fertile ground, Argentina's Pampas is the center of the country's agricultural activity. But decades of intensive grain farming (soya, wheat and maize) and cattle ranching have led to the erosion of natural Pampas vegetation. That is increasingly becoming a problem, particularly for birds - both native and migratory species - that either live or seek temporary shelter in the region's grasslands. Avian conservation organization Aves Argentinas is working with local cattle ranchers to protect that land - in part through sustainable agricultural practices.

A film by Vera Freitag

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