The Patagonia Azul Biosphere Reserve encompasses an area with the greatest biodiversity on the Argentine coastline. The area includes important breeding, feeding and migration sites for various species. It also hosts the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in the world.
Patagonia Azul Biosphere Reserve
The Patagonia Azul Biosphere Reserve is located in the south of Argentina, on the coast of the Chubut province and covers an area of just approximately 3,100,000 ha (31,000 sq km) or 7,660,000 acres (12,000 sq mi).
The Patagonia Azul Biosphere Reserve was added to the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 2015. Roughly the size of Belgium, it is the largest protected area in the country.
The specific geographical characteristics combined with numerous inaccessible areas and over fifty islands and coastal islands, have resulted in pristine areas that protect the essential biodiversity of this region of Patagonia.
The reserve also includes archaeological and paleontological sites of unique value, including an extensive petrified forest.
The reserve encompasses a coastal area containing the greatest biodiversity on the Argentine coastline. The area constitutes a representative sample of the Patagonian Steppe, the Patagonian Southwest Atlantic, and plains and plateaus.
The reserve includes important breeding, feeding and migration sites for various species of birds and mammals. For example, Punta Tombo hosts the largest colony of Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) in the world, accounting for almost 40% of the global population.
The reserve has a very low human population density, with the only town being Camarones. The permanent population amounts to 1,680 residents and a seasonal population of 1,842 inhabitants. Of these, 5% belong to indigenous ethnic groups, including the Mapuche, Tehuelche and Ona.
Today, most of the territory is occupied by ranches or rural establishments dedicated to sheep rearing, with wool production constituting another economic activity of importance.
The southern part of the reserve is linked with the origins of 'Lana Camarones', fine quality wool made locally since the nineteenth century. Other main activities include fishing, tourism, seaweed extraction and small and medium-scale cultivation of native bivalves.