© Patagonia Land Trust
Photos: Kris Tompkins
The Patagonia Land Trust has already made possible the preservation of more than a quarter million acres in the coastal and steppe biomes of Patagonia. PLT is working with the Argentine and provincial governments, local environmental groups and leading biologists to create comprehensive wildlands protection and management plans.
Bioregion: Atlantic coast.
Location: Southern coast of Santa Cruz Province, north of Rio Gallegos.
Size: 155,000 acres, over 25 miles of coastline.
On November 14, 2002, in Buenos Aires, Monte León was officially donated to the National Parks of Argentina by the Patagonia Land Trust and Fundación Vida Silvestre of Argentina. Monte León is the first Coastal National Park in Argentina and is a critical link in the creation of a chain of reserves that will preserve the unique wildlife of one of the world's last wild coasts. High cliffs, whitecapped waves, scouring winds and stark beauty pervade its 25 miles of coastline. This coastline is home to one of the largest Magellanic penguin rookeries on the Atlantic coast, along with South American sea lions, southern elephant seals, three species of cormorant and other avifauna. At one point in the region's history an estimated 350,000 South American sea lions populated the area, however their population currently sits at between 600-1000, reduced by the harvest of seal oil for use during World War II. The land is also home to guanacos, red foxes, pumas, Darwin's rheas and a variety of other plants and animals. Monte León, named for the rock formation extending in to the Atlantic Ocean resembling a lion, has existed on navigational charts since the time of explorer Ferdinand Magellan.
Estancia Monte León was purchased in May 2001 by Fundación Vida Silvestre, a leading environmental group and associate organization of the World Wildlife Fund, with a donation of $1.7M from the Patagonia Land Trust. Before donating the property to National Parks of Argentina in November of 2002, Fundación Vida Silvestre and the Patagonia Land Trust asked for participation from officials of the National Parks Administration and representatives of the Province of Santa Cruz to develop a Master Plan for the Monte León acreage. This document, a critical component of effective long-term management of the area, describes the characteristics of the region and defines the areas of visitor use for viewing wildlife, as well as picnic and camping areas. Additionally, the plan also describes what infrastructure will be used for public education, park control and administration, and where new trails and vista points will be built. The 170-page plan was finalized and approved this past July. Additional funding for the new project will be through a loan agreement with the World Bank established for the express purpose of establishing five new national parks in Argentina.
Location: Inland from adjacent Estancia Monte León, Santa Cruz Province.
Size: 82,500 acres, 13 miles of the Santa Cruz River.
The PLT and Kris Tompkins have secured the funds to purchase Estancia Dor-Aike, which, continguous to Estancia Monte León, in the future may expand the developing national park at Monte León.
Dor-Aike is a classic property of vast Patagonian steppe, with the spectacular Santa Cruz River, the largest river in Patagonia, forming the entire northern border of the estancia. The river is home to countless species of bird life and fauna.
Bioregion: Mountain grassland/forest.
Location: Near the Perito Moreno National Park, adjacent to Cerro San Lorenzo.
Size: 35,000 acres.
Estancia El Rincón, situated at the base of Cerro San Lorenzo, with a 9,000-foot ice-and-rock wall that looms above the property is in the process of being donated to the PLT. The estancia safeguards forests of indigenous lenga and ñire trees. Grazing was discontinued here 10 years ago and there has been a significant recovery of native grasses. Both grasslands and forest are home to a variety of fauna including pumas, upland geese, Andean condors, pink flamingos and huemul deer.
In concert with the national park system and leading conservation biologists, PLT is working towards eventual transfer of this property to enlarge the adjacent Perito Moreno National Park.