Catamarca, Argentina – Declaration of the high Andes home to two of the three species of Andean flamingos marks WWF’s delivery of a “crazy, unrealistic pledge” to deliver 100 million hectares of new protected wetlands in a decade.


Fittingly, the 3000 to nearly 7000 metre high Lagunas Altoandinas y Punenas de Catamarca in north west Argentina is the highest area to be declared a wetland of international importance under the International Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention).

With 1.2 million hectares of high altitude “puna” scattered with a variety of shallow, deep and brackish to hypersaline lakes, the Catamarca Lagunas complex is also the largest of the Andean wetlands of international importance, home to a variety of migratory birds, as well as a unique frog threatened Andean cats and chinchillas.

The Catamarca Lagunas complex is a highly vulnerable and fragile area, threatened by overgrazing, unregulated tourism, mining prospecting and flamingo egg collection.


 or WWF International’s Wetlands Conservation Manager Denis Landenbergue, this latest Ramsar declaration is a fitting climax to a decade of seeking to preserve fragile areas crucial to functioning of landscapes and the animals and people of five continents.

The WWF and Ramsar Convention global vision – for 250 million hectares of new protected wetlands by 2010 – is still some way off, with parties to the convention deciding last year on 2015 as a target date for its achievement.

Ramsar Convention Secretary General Anada Tiega paid tribute to WWF’s achievement in playing a major role in securing an area equating to nearly three Germanys or about one and half times the size of Texas and its “instrumental support to the worldwide conservation of wetlands in general and the Ramsar objectives in particular”.

“I would also like to highlight the major leveraging effect these designations have generated for globally improving the management of wetlands,”said Tiega.

Around three quarters of the total area designated globally under the Ramsar Convention in the past decade has been directly supported by WWF’s International Fresh Water Programme.

Promoting the designation of wetlands is an efficient way of attracting the attention, and the crucially important resources of the international donors community to support their improved management,” said Landenbergue.

“In the past 10 years, every single dollar invested by WWF has generated, on average, matching external funding up to 25-30 times larger in wetlands management and restoration.”

For further information:
Denis Landenbergue, WWF International Wetlands Conservation Manager,
dlandenbergue@wwfint.org, +41