Argentina’s Congress has just voted to approve legislation that will see the creation of a new national park in the northeast of the country. The new park will be called Iberá National Park, and when combined with the existing Iberá Provincial Park, the two will represent the largest nature park in the country.
The newly created park comprises of 395,000 acres of freshwater marshlands in the Corrientes Province, which will add significantly to the 1.3 million acres already protected by the provincial park. This equates to a total of about 1.7 million acres of protected land, which is roughly 2,656 square miles, or just over twice the size of Yosemite National Park.
The entire region has one of the largest freshwater wetlands throughout all of South America but also contains abundant forest and grassland habitats as well. While the real figure is likely to be higher due to limitations in monitoring, it is estimated that there are over 4,000 distinct species of plants and animals living within the protected area, including deer, anteaters, otters, wolves, and jaguars.
It is hoped that the creation of this new park will help stimulate the country’s ecotourism sector, which relies on tourists coming in to view the natural landscape and wildlife of the area. It is estimated that the park will receive around 100,000 visitors each year for the next decade. To promote this even further, those in charge of the conservation efforts will undertake a rewilding project, which means protecting and possibly reintroducing any species native to the region.
Much of the land was donated by two organizations, both founded by Douglas and Kristine Tompkins, who have already donated 10 million acres to national parks in Chile. Referring to the day of the vote as “a day to celebrate”, Tompkins Conservation President, Kristine Tompkins, said: “For the wildlife at home here, for the people of Argentina, and for future generations who will experience this amazing landscape’s beauty and biodiversity, the new park’s designation is a great victory.”