Preserving Patagonia: Restoring a Natural Wonder
The 8th Wonder of the World
Patagonia is one of the last remaining authentic regions of pristine wild beauty in a world threatened by human-induced climate change, habitat destruction, and biodiversity loss. However, even Patagonia faces its own unique challenges, such as expanding development, which brings with it invasive species that are damaging the region’s world-renowned wilderness. For example, an invasive species of European Willow is outcompeting native species in the Limay River Basin, home to Patagonia’s most important trout fisheries. This change has potentially catastrophic consequences for the region, a global center for ecotourism, and for the people who live in and rely on it. With your help, our student Practicum team from the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability will work to develop a restoration plan for native willow trees along the Limay River, preserving the landscape and supporting local communities. Please read on below and consider donating to our campaign.
Who We Are
We are a team of UCLA Environmental Science students committed to restoring Patagonia, often referred to as the 8th natural wonder of the world. By partnering with the Neuquén Center for Applied Ecology and The Nature Conservancy, we aim to establish a conservation project that will have a lasting impact on the local environment and the people that depend on its resources.
The Problem and Its Impact
For centuries, the Limay River has provided a sustainable fishery for locals to depend on and tourists to enjoy. The river is also a critical economic driver; dams along the river provide a remarkable 24% of Argentina's power. However, this resource is threatened by the European Willow's expansion which in turn poses a serious risk to local biodiversity, including Patagonia's famous trout fishery, and has fundamentally changed the physical course of the River.
Preservation in this area is necessary to secure stable food sources and economic prosperity for the people of Patagonia in years to come. By donating to our campaign, you will have a direct impact on Patagonia, one of the most pristine and wild landscapes in the world.
Our goal is to identify and map the extent to which invasive willows contribute to environmental degradation. We will collect data through cutting-edge remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) applications, while engaging local fishing guides and relevant government agencies. Using this information, we will then produce tailored solutions for the removal of non-native willows and the reintroduction of native willows.
How You Can Help
In Spring 2020, our research team will travel to Patagonia to work closely with local scientists, field experts, and fishing guides to collect ecological data and apply our research firsthand. Your donations will directly fund our airfare, meals, transportation, and equipment needed to complete our research. This trip will not be possible without your support. By donating to this campaign, you will play a major role in training the next generation of environmental scientists, engineers, and leaders and altering the future of the Limay River Basin's landscape and the communities that depend in it. Please donate!