The Bañados del Este Biosphere Reserve in eastern Uruguay comprises a remarkable complex of ecosystems and a vast complex of coastal wetlands. Together, these form a rich habitat for wildlife, including near-threatened or endangered species.
Bañados del Este Biosphere Reserve
The Bañados del Este Biosphere Reserve, located in the Rocha and Treinta y Tres departments in the Eastern Wetlands region of Uruguay, covers approximately 407,000 ha (1,000,000 acres).
Also known as the Bañados del Este and Franja Costera wetland, the area was recognized in June of 1976 as part of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB). More than 90% of the reserve area is private land.
The Bañados del Este Biosphere Reserve includes the following protected areas:
Monumento Histórico y Parque Nacional Fortaleza de Santa Teresa
Parque Nacional y Reserva de Fauna y Flora de El Potrerillo de Santa Teresa
Monumento Histórico Parque y Fuerte San Miguel
Refugio de Fauna Laguna Castillos
Reserva Forestal de Cabo Polonio y Aguas Dulces
Monumento Natural de Dunas y Costa Atlántica
Parque Nacional Lacustre de las Lagunas de Rocha y Garzón
This Eastern Wetlands region comprises a remarkable complex of ecosystems and a vast complex of coastal wetlands, including various lagoons and rivers. Altogether, these form a rich habitat for wildlife, including myriad species categorized as near-threatened or endangered.
Low hills on rocky substratum also occur on the ocean coast, and several coastal lagoons are among the most remarkable features of the region. Most of them are separated from the sea by a narrow sand bar, which regularly opens to allow the entrance of seawater.
The Bañados del Este Biosphere Reserve is the only area in the country where 'butia' palms exist in almost pure associations covering an area of nearly 70,000 ha (173,000 acres). Currently, the palm is at risk of extinction due to the aging of the plants and the lack of renovation of the buds eaten by the cattle.
Dominant in the herbaceous community are Cyperaceae, Juncaceae, Gramineae and Monte psamófilo, as well as extensive stands of conifers. The indigenous fauna remains almost intact, except the marsh deer (Lastocerus Blastocerus dichotomus) is now locally extinct.