Rewilding and tourism as a force for good

Part of our journey as a B-Corp is getting around and getting to know initiatives that are making the world a better place. With that in mind, we attended the event Conectados Por Naturaleza at @Patagonia Buenos Aires last week.

During the presentations, Rafael Abuin and Daniela Villalva from Rewilding Argentina told us about their work first on Parque Nacional Iberá on Corrientes province and more recently on Parque Patagonia Argentina (Santa Cruz province). By realizing that more traditional conservation strategies (i.e. just protecting an area and waiting for nature to regenerate itself) were not enough, Fundación Fauna y Flora Argentina started to implement a much more active approach: rewilding. 

In a nutshell, rewilding is giving nature a “small” push to restore itself. Be it by protecting the land and restricting its use, by removing human-built obstacles that disrupt the ecosystem (like fences and dams) or even by bringing “back” species that inhabited the land originally. On Iberá, for example, there is now a new family of jaguars that were brought from Brazil and are being taken care of by the National Park team before being re-introduced freely on the land (the first one should be released this summer). 

On Parque Patagonia Argentina, there was no need to re-introduce any species, but they are putting a lot of effort into monitoring the ones that co-exist there: placing trail cameras on different spots to study their habits, tracking smaller animals with chips and installing collar monitors with GPS on the biggest animals. All of this in order to understand those species better, focusing especially on the way they interact with others, humans among them. 

Yes, humans are a very important part of the whole conversation strategy. Not only because we have to learn about it and “fix our mess”, but because we actually have the power to push it further. On Iberá, there was a really successful strategy of selling the region as a tourist destination: 10 years ago, probably only biologists or geographers knew about this area in detail, and now Corrientes was included along with its neighborhood provinces as one of the top 10 regions to visit in 2020 by Lonely Planet.

And what we as B-Corp find more interesting about it all is that it was built by engaging local communities, making them understand that they could thrive economically with the regeneration of the land. A very straightforward example is shown on the picture that illustrates the post: a former hunter that on the old days would kill the yacare to sell its skin now makes way much more money taking tourists after tourists to see the animal in its natural –and protected– habitat. After all, as Patagonia founder Yvon Choinard once said: “Profit is what happens when you do everything else right.”

Picture: Rafael Abuín Aido