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Rio Grande


Conservation and community benefit: Fencing, signs, bird watching platforms, and educational materials for the 198-acre Rio Grande Natural Reserve System

Date Approved: 02.2014

Tierra del Fuego Island, in Austral Patagonia, is shared by Chile and Argentina. The island is a critical wintering site for several migratory shorebird species. On the Argentinean side of the island, the 220-kilometer (137-mile) long Atlantic Coastal Reserve of Tierra del Fuego is part of the Western Hemisphere Reserve Network. The reserve is also a Ramsar wetland of international importance, and is an officially designated Important Bird Conservation Area.

Despite its official protected status, the reserve area is under stress from urban development. Household waste contaminates the feeding sites, and dogs disturb the birds. All of these conditions damage shorebird habitat. Local organization Asociación Ambiente Sur is leading efforts to create a network of four Urban Natural Reserves, protecting a total of 198 acres (80 hectares). Seacology is providing funding for infrastructure for the new Rio Grande reserve system. The Seacology grant will pay for fencing, bird watching platforms, and signage. It will also fund as educational materials designed to engage the public in these important new reserves.

Project Updates

February 2016

A Seacology expedition visited these reserves with our Chile field representative Claudio Delgado, and came away very impressed with the conservation efforts underway there. According to Seacology’s Executive Director Duane Silverstein, “Rio Grande is a rapidly growing and unplanned city, and many newly arrived residents don’t have a sense of connection to the local environment. The recently opened interpretative center is getting a lot of visits from schoolchildren, who will tell their parents about the importance of protecting the shorebirds that migrate from northern Canada.”

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June 2015

This project has been completed. Birdwatching platforms and fences were built in Punta Popper and the other three urban reserves. An awareness campaign, which reached more than 4,000 people, was designed and implemented. Finally, the urban reserves were recognized legally by government decree. In June, a public ceremony celebrated the opening of the nature and birdwatching center.

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January 2015

Signs, fences, and trail markers have been erected in Punta Popper Urban Natural Reserve. Next, bird watching platforms and more fences will be built in Punta Popper and the other three urban reserves that make up the coastal natural reserve system. The project should be completed by the end of March 2015.

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