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Argentina preserving pristine forests




An Argentinian yacare caiman in Misiones, northeast Argentina. UN photo

Thousands of species of animals and plants which are indigenous to a vast forest in Argentina could be saved thanks to a partnership between the United Nations (UN) and the South American country.

The Paranaense Forest which has been designated as a biodiversity hotspot is under threat from the expansion of agriculture, despite already suffering a loss of 95 percent of its land area over the past 120 years.

The plan has been developed by UN-REDD, a UN body which focuses on reducing harmful gas emissions caused by deforestation. It has been working with the Argentinian authorities to establish sustainable forest management practices which will support local indigenous communities and reduce deforestation.

It’s part of Argentina’s national commitment to reducing global emissions and preserving forests.

The Paranaense Forest is classified as a biodiversity hotspot. It has 52 percent of Argentina’s biodiversity, with more than 150 species of mammals, including jaguars; 564 species of birds; 260 species of fish; 116 species of reptiles; 68 species of amphibians; and thousands of plants and fungi species.

Research has shown that pristine forests have incredible significance for climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity preservation, watershed management and indigenous cultures and livelihoods.

Yet between 2000 to 2013, seven percent of pristine forests were destroyed. The Paranaense Forest faces serious threats from agricultural expansion. In the past 120 years, 95 percent of it has been lost. Out of the remaining five percent still standing, most is in Misiones Province.