Ecology Programmes Saving High Andean Wetlands

The High Andean Wetlands are beautiful and mesmerizing landscapes. But they represent much more: an invaluable cultural heritage, an enormous value for local economies, including pasture for llamas and alpacas, and a source of peat for fuel and food resources to local communities. Moreover, these wetlands capture and store an impressive amount of CO2.

However, a century of human activities have affected these ecosystems. In particular unmanaged livestock grazing, impacts of climate change and pollution from extensive mining activities — past and present.

Since 2017, Wetlands International is working with the communities of Pozuelos Lagoon in Argentina and Junin Lake in Peru, to address the various threats that affect these high Andean wetlands. As a result, more than 270 families participate 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.

Recently, the programme has been extended with new locations, with a view to improving the conservation status of five threatened High Andean Wetlands 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.

The focus will be on sustainable grazing, restoration of the wetland habitat and improving wetland management. A new priority will be to address the imminent threats from mining, in particular lithium mining — in collaboration with local communities, governments and companies. Catalyzing a 10-year regional initiative, with partners, is part of our ambition.

These initiatives are often challenging, but crucially important for both people and biodiversity. If the trajectory of these sites can be redirected and pointed towards a healthier future, this can also provide a blueprint for many other locations in the region.

This programme is executed by our partner Wetlands International

Key features

Landscape  High Andean wetlands (Argentina, Peru), altitude ca 3.000 - 4.100
  Pozuelos Lagoon: 16.000 hectares
  Junin Lake: 53.000 hectares
  Carampoma-Marcapomacocha: 72.000 hectares
  Salinas Grandes: 1.720.000 hectares
  Altiplano of Catamarca: 3.000.000 hectares
Goals  Restoration of 375 hectares of peatland
  Grazing agreements engaging 550 shepherding families
  Better grazing practices in 14.100 hectares
  Promotion of sustainable mining