The Argentine Republic has 49 national protected areas, and four of them, whose dissimilarity reveals the country's environmental diversity, have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO .
We tell you which are the national parks in Argentina that have been declared a World Heritage Site. / Photo: Luca Galuzzi
LatinAmerican Post | Jorge Guasp
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Meaning of the UNESCO World Heritage declaration
The 1972 Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage established that certain places on Earth with exceptional universal value belong to the common heritage of humanity. UNESCO maintains that “the Convention is unique, because it links the concept of nature conservation with the preservation of cultural sites. Thanks to the invaluable help of local communities, the Convention is an effective tool for tackling contemporary challenges related to climate change, uncontrolled urbanization, mass tourism, sustainable socio-economic development and natural disasters ”.
World Heritage Sites in the Administration of National Parks of Argentina
In the case of Argentina, four of its National Parks are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, which defines them as follows:
1. Los Glaciares National Park (1981)
Los Glaciares National Park is a site of exceptional natural beauty with impressive jagged peaks and numerous glacial lakes, such as 'Lago Argentino', which is 160 kilometers long. At the end of it, three glaciers converge, plunging huge icebergs into its icy, milky-gray waters, amid a thunderous din.
2. Iguazú National Park (1984)
In the heart of this park is the Iguazú waterfall. Formed by a semicircular basalt cliff 80 meters high and 2,700 meters wide, the waterfall forms the border between Argentina and Brazil and is one of the most spectacular in the world, divided into multiple waterfalls from which huge mists emanate. The surrounding subtropical rainforest is home to more than 2,000 species of vascular plants and the characteristic fauna of the region: tapirs, giant anteaters, howler monkeys, ocelots, jaguars and alligators.
3. Ischigualasto Natural Park and Talampaya National Park (2000)
These two contiguous parks cover an area of more than 275,300 hectares, in the desert region that borders the Sierras Pampeanas in central Argentina to the west. The six geological formations of the parks are home to the most complete continental set of fossils in the world corresponding to the Triassic, the geological period that began about 245 million years before our era and ended about 37 million years later. The fossils comprise a wide range of mammalian ancestors, as well as dinosaur and plant remains, illustrating the evolution of vertebrates and the characteristics of paleoenvironments from the Triassic period.
4. Los Alerces National Park (2017)
Los Alerces National Park is located in the Andes of northern Patagonia and its western limit coincides with the border with Chile. The successive glaciations shaped the region's passage, creating particular features such as moraines, glacial cirques and crystalline lakes. The dominant vegetation is the dense temperate forests, which give way to the tall meadows below the rocky Andean peaks. A highly distinctive and emblematic feature is the larch forest; This endangered tree is the second longest-lived tree species in the world (over 3,600 years). The larch forest of this park has an excellent state of conservation. The natural area is vital for the protection of some of the last portions of Patagonian forest in an almost pristine state, and is the habitat of a number of endemic and threatened species of flora and fauna.
Advantages of the declaration of World Heritage
In the document Preparation of Proposals for Inscription on the World Heritage List (2011), UNESCO states that inscription on that List has, among others, the following advantages:
- It gives the State Party and the local community the possibility to celebrate the property as one of the most important natural and cultural sites in the world.
- It tends to make the property an emblem for the national network of protected areas and sites, thus promoting greater recognition and better protection of heritage in the life of the community.
- The interest of the international community in World Heritage often stimulates international cooperation and joint efforts to protect the property.
- It provides the possibility to mobilize funds and support, particularly from donors and the World Heritage Fund.
- It allows disseminating protection, conservation and management techniques and practices that can be applied to national and local heritage assets.
Declaration of World Heritage Site: a commitment to the world
The declaration of World Heritage Site entails a paradox: it contributes to the valuation and protection of the site, but it also promotes tourism, which can undermine its conservation and lead to additional negative consequences, such as infrastructure development and fires, among others . Therefore, the balance between the benefits of the declaration and the proper management of the tourist visit is key, in order to guarantee the preservation of these assets of universal value.