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IADIZA conducts scientific research aimed at understanding and explaining the structure and functioning of drylands

Reserve and Experimental Station

Ñacuñán Biosphere Reserve

The Biosphere Reserve of Ñacuñán is the first protected area created in the territory of Mendoza, and the most studied and known in Mendoza province and in the Monte region. It was established in 1961 by Law 2821 of the province of Mendoza. In 1986 it was included in UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Program, and since then is part of the World’s Network of Biosphere Reserves. The goal of this program is improving human-nature relationships. The Reserve is also an Area of Importance for Wild Bird Conservation (AICAS by its Spanish acronym).

This nature Reserve lies on the plain known as Travesía del Tunuyán, in the central east of Mendoza province, in the department of Santa Rosa (34º 03' S and 67º 58' W). It covers an area of 12300 ha and is bounded by the Huayquerías hills on the west, the Desaguadero river on the east, the Tunuyán river on the north and the Diamante river on the south. It belongs to the biome of warm deserts and semi-deserts which, together with the rest of the world’s drylands, encompass over 30 percent of the land area of the globe. It is nestled in the central part of the Monte Phytogeographic Province, whereby it has great biogeographic representativeness.

Goals of the Reserve:

a)    Preserving the ecosystem’s natural heritage for coming generations and contributing to maintaining the richness of biodiversity;

b)    Serving as a basis for scientific research;

c)    Providing a basis for environmental education directed to all sectors of society;

d)    Monitoring climate, biodiversity and ecological processes;

e)    Opening doors for studies of human-nature relationships aimed at sustainable development.

The major concern that led to the creation of the Reserve was the conservation of the open woodland of Prosopis, which was subjected to intensive logging in the early part of last century, to provide gas lighting to Mendoza city. Since the time it was declared a protected area, subsequent stages of woodland recovery can be seen in the Reserve. Investigations made throughout this process allow for a deeper knowledge of the area’s functioning. In this manner, another goal is met: education, since knowledge of nature provides tools for its conservation.

Ever since it was presented to the MAB Program and was internationally acknowledged as a Biosphere Reserve, Ñacuñán has a zoning that allows reconciling conservation activities with research, transfer and environmental education activities.

Research linked to teaching opens a dimension for Ñacuñan, turned into a school of the desert, to fully bear fruit. The School of the Desert Project includes the holding of congresses, science camps, guided tours, courses and a program of activities for the school in the village of Ñacuñán. Leaflets, posters and environmental interpretation guides have been developed to this purpose. Courses on management of dryland natural resources, biodiversity, updating of the teaching of dryland biodiversity, fire control, among others, are directed to different education levels, including the postgraduate level.

Between 1991 and 2010, a total of 68 education activities were carried out, including courses, congresses and capacity building activities for various education levels, from postgraduate to primary school, with 1803 attendants and 83 guided tours with approximately 2101 participants.

In 2010, IADIZA and the Direction for Renewable Natural Resources (Secretary of the Environment, Government of Mendoza) signed an Agreement of co-management of the Ñacuñán Biosphere Reserve, combining IADIZA’s management of the reserve with presence of park rangers, building of infrastructure and improvement of services, to ensure control and monitoring of the protected area. A major actor in placing value on the Ñacuñán Reserve is the Municipality of Santa Rosa, which considers it a privileged site for promotion of recreational, education and tourist activities.

Location

“El Divisadero” Cattle and Range Experiment Station, Department of Santa Rosa, Province of Mendoza

In 1985, the Experiment Station was designed, established and put to operation as a cattle experimental and demonstration range of 5000 ha, located within an area of approximately 20000 ha of public lands managed by IADIZA in the Department of Santa Rosa, in the central north part of the plain of Mendoza (33º 45’ S, 67º 41’ W).

It is incorporated, as an adjoining experimentation area, to the Reserve of Ñacuñán in 1986, when it is presented to the MAB Program.

The Experiment Station is aimed at implementing and monitoring beef cattle production systems on natural dryland pastures, reconciling the concepts of sustainability and profitability.

A four-paddock-one-herd grazing system has been implemented in the Experiment Station. It is exclusively devoted to the rearing of Aberdeen Angus and Argentine Creole breeds of cattle. By applying this grazing system and a conservative stocking rate (25 ha UA-1), the economic efficiency of the land was increased by 200 percent, compared to the low operational costs, investments and management of the traditional production system.