Argentina names high-altitude Ramsar site

Argentina names high-altitude Ramsar site

15 November 2000
Argentina

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Argentina's authorities have designated their 8th Ramsar site, Lagunas de Vilama (157,000 hectares, 22°36’S 066°55’W), which comprises more than ten Andean highland lagoons that occupy endorrheic depressions in Jujuy province, in the extreme northwest of the country, at 4,500 meters above sea level. The lagoons have diverse characteristics, from saline and deep to hypersaline and shallow. They provide habitat for a very rich aquatic bird life, with a good number of endemic and/or endangered species (flamingos Phoenicoparrus andinus, P. jamesi, and coots Fulica cornuta); in addition, a diversity of Nearctic migrating species find a feeding place here. In the plains that surround the lagoons, locally called "ciénegos", other endangered species like vicuñas and "ñandú" (South American ostrich; Pterocnemia pennata garleppi) are present. These "ciénegos" also provide grazing resources for herds of domestic camelids (llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, etc.) and sheep of the local people who practice traditional modes of transhumance. In addition to these plains, the most prevalent vegetation are characteristic of shrub steppes and Andean highland pastures. Numerous archeological sites attest to significant human populations from 5,000 years ago, and the lagoons continue to hold ritual significance. The area of the Ramsar site is part of the provincial Reserva Altoandina de la Chinchilla. There are presently 1039 Wetlands of International Importance globally, covering 78,423,330 hectares. [8/11/00]