Fundación Hábitat y Desarrollo (FH&D) protects the biodiversity and natural landscapes of Argentina while promoting sustainable development. It works to involve the government, the private sector, and people across Argentina in conservation actions. With its private reserve network, FH&D safeguards species and landscapes of high conservation value, ensuring landowners are invested in the preservation of this natural heritage.
Founded in 1992, FH&D currently shares the administration of 25 private reserves that protect more than 50,000 ha in Argentina. Some of these reserves have been established in places where no protected area existed before, while others sit adjacent to Argentina’s national parks and provincial protected areas, acting as corridors, natural buffer zones, and/or areas of sustainable resource use. FH&D has brought protection to a wide range of environments, including the Dry Chaco and Humid Chaco, the basins of the Uruguay and Paraná rivers, and the steppes and Atlantic coastline of Patagonia.
Because much of the land in Argentina is owned by agricultural producers and private companies, FH&D must work together with these entities to develop sustainable management plans that won’t be detrimental to wildlife. These plans can include legal declaration of protected areas, habitat restoration and removal of invasive species. Outside of this work, FH&D operates a number of different programmes that provide environmental education, water treatment, renewable energy, and recycling schemes.
WLT partnered with FH&D in 2021 to create the first effective reserve on the Somuncurá Plateau, where invasive species and unsustainable land-use practices are pushing a rich array of endemic species to the brink of extinction. There are fish, frogs, snails and lizards here that are found nowhere else on Earth. Native predators (Puma, Culpeo) and browsers (Guanaco) have also had their numbers thinned following conflicts with local ranchers. Now, thanks to supporters of WLT’s Buy an Acre programme, this embattled wildlife community has been handed a vital lifeline.
This project will protect an initial property of 4,725 ha (11,675 acres) and also fund initial management of the reserve over the first three years. One ranger has already been hired to patrol Somuncurá, monitor its habitats, and protect its native wildlife from hunters. FH&D is working with local farmers to manage the movement of their livestock, and these same farmers have also signed an agreement to confirm they will no longer use traps or poison to kill Puma or Culpeo (Andean Fox). Four guard dogs have been provided to deter these native predators from preying on the farmers’ sheep.
The isolation of the Somuncurá Plateau from the surrounding landscape has allowed a number of endemic species to evolve here. The El Rincon Stream Frog and Naked Characin (a type of fish) are both Critically Endangered and found only in the geothermally heated Valcheta Stream, 2km of which has now been restored by FH&D. There are also two endemic freshwater snails currently being assessed that are likely to be Critically Endangered, as well as the Laguna Raymunda Frog (Vulnerable) that lives in a few isolated lagoons on the plateau.
Four lizard species and a subspecies of the Southern Viscacha (a type of chinchilla) round out the known endemic life of Somuncurá. With the restoration of the Valcheta Stream and the fencing off of other key sites degraded by invasive wild boars, FH&D has secured a safer future for the unique resident animals here. Buy an Acre supporters have played a valuable role in saving these species from possible extinction, and more progress is already on the horizon, with FH&D planning a recolonisation initiative for the Naked Characin in 2023.
Conservation Director: Gustavo Aparicio