Situated on the coast of the Chubut province in a key location for biological diversity in the Argentine Sea, the Patagonia Azul Project is working to expand protection for and work on the restoration of marine ecosystems to promote a new restorative economy through marine tourism and regenerative production.

Ecosystems:

Patagonia steppe and Atlantic coast, with sections of canyons, marshy areas, steep bluffs and rocky beaches.

Carbon sequestered:

203,400 metric tons

Important conservation attributes:

Large nesting and breeding colonies of marine birds and mammals, the endangered and endemic white-headed flightless steamer duck, other species that are threatened and close to endangered like Olrog’s gull and Magellanic penguin, important stop-over sites for endangered migratory bird species like the Red knot and ruddy-headed goose.

Outstanding attractions:

Boat trips to view marine birds and mammals in Bahia Arredondo, Bahia Camarones, and Bahia Bustamante; Viewing Magellanic penguins in Cabo Dos Bahias and Punta Tombo; Snorkeling, diving in seaweed forests and meadows and around islands, and exploring shipwrecks; petrified forests; historic places (Caleta Hornos and Faro Leones) and the traditional town of Camarones; Archaeological heritage site Buque Villarino shipwreck; Recreational activities like mountain biking in Rocas Coloradas and Isla Leones Gateway, surfing in Cabo Raso, kitesurfing, and wing foiling in Bahia Camarones.

Coordination Team:

Diana Friedrich
Parks and Communities Coordinator

Diana is a naturalist and adventurer. She received a degree in Nature Conservation in South Africa, leading her to work in several nature reserves in Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Tanzania. Diana was the field coordinator for the Macá Tobiano (hooded grebe) Project, an initiative of Aves Argentinas, for three seasons and worked as a field technician on Rewilding Argentina’s projects to reintroduce giant anteaters and red-and-green macaws. She currently lives in Camarones and coordinates the Patagonia Azul project’s Parks and Communities Program.

Lucas Beltramino
Conservation Coordinator

Lucas is an expert in digital technology, a professional diver, and a sailor with a degree in biology. For his doctorate, he studied the behavior and bioenergy of two species of Argentine marine fish, the mero (Argentine sea bass) and the white salmon (Argentine sand perch). Lucas participated in the Southern Right Whale Health Monitoring Program for six years and was a sailing instructor. He coordinates and carries out rewilding work for the Patagonia Azul Project.

PATAGONIA AZUL

An explosion of life between sea and land

Photo: Rafa Abuin

Situated on the coast of the Chubut province in a key location for biological diversity in the Argentine Sea, the Patagonia Azul Project is working to expand protection for and work on the restoration of marine ecosystems to promote a new restorative economy through marine tourism and regenerative production.

The coasts of the Patagonia Azul Project extend into one of the areas of the Argentinean Sea that is richest in wildlife. The coastal-marine zone between the cities of Comodoro Rivadavia and Rawson is home to more than 60 protected islands and bays that serve as feeding, breeding and nesting grounds for numerous species of birds and marine mammals.

Unesco’s declaration of the Patagonia Azul Biosphere Reserve highlights, on an international level, its conservation value and gives a strong identity to the marine coastal region of Chubut. With a surface of 3.1 million hectares, it is the largest biosphere reserve in the country and is the one that contains the largest oceanic expanse.

The Ruta Azul (RP1) extends for more than 450 kilometers along spectacular coastal landscapes that are the result of geological processes that mark the region. The trip between Comodoro Rivadavia and Trelew passes through two traditional towns, four gateways that will have public access, two historic sites and four provincial protected natural areas.

The region presents a spectacular opportunity to implement a multidimensional conservation and local development project, where the inhabitants of the region establish a common vision to achieve greater legal protection of Patagonia Azul and turn it into a destination with a brand and identity based on the protection of nature and culture, fostering a diversified, regenerative economy.

WILDLIFE

Photo: Beth Wald

Our goals include generating information on conservation values that contribute to expanding marine protection, restoring degraded marine environments and reducing threats to wildlife, especially on islands, through the eradication of non-native species.

The shores of Patagonia Azul Park extend into one of the areas of the Argentinean Sea that is richest in wildlife. The reserve will incorporate about 200 kilometers of irregular coastline that includes more than 60 islands. Of the 16 species of seabirds that nest in Argentina, 13 do so at this site at 21 breeding colonies that each include between one and seven species of birds. Some of these species are the giant petrel, the imperial cormorant, the black-necked cormorant, the endemic steamer duck and the Olrog’s gull.

The sea lion colony on the islands contains about 4,000 individuals representing 20% of their total population found in the Golfo San Jorge area. The richness and abundance of the area also attracts whales, orcas and dolphins, while on land there are guanacos, lesser rheas, Patagonian maras and armadillos.

However, the introduction of non-native species—such as rabbits, domestic cats, rats and big hairy armadillos—to the islands threatens their fragile environments and the colonies of seabirds that thrive there. In addition, the exploitation of seaweed to obtain agar has deteriorated the seabed, with serious impacts on the biological diversity of the seagrass meadows.

Patagonia Azul also plans to carry out the first underwater environment restoration project in the country, through the regeneration of the seaweed meadows that once thrived on these seabeds.

REGENERATIVE ECONOMY

Photo: Darío Podestá

As part of the Ruta Azul of Patagonia, Patagonia Azul is developing public access gateways with services and proposals from local communities for visitors from around the world who wish to experience the beauty of Patagonian marine and coastal biodiversity.

The Patagonia Azul tourist destination connects the municipalities of Comodoro Rivadavia, Camarones, Trelew, Los Altares and Sarmiento under a single territory-based brand. There are two important tourist areas whose axes are three routes: the Ruta Azul, terrestrial and scenic, the Marine Route and the Aerial Route, which allows for flyovers of the region with stops in the gateways and towns. In addition, the Huella Azul, a coastal trekking trail of more than 450 kilometers, is being developed.

Four public access gateways (Rocas Coloradas Gateway, Bahía Bustamante Gateway, Isla Leones Gateway, Punta Tombo Gateway), two traditional towns (Caleta Córdova and Camarones), two historic sites (Bahía Bustamante and Cabo Raso), the ports of Comodoro Rivadavia, Caleta Córdova, Camarones and Rawson and a large marine territory, the communities linked to them and the neighboring ranches that offer nature tourism are united under this large, one-of-a-kind territory-based brand that has regional, national and international positioning.

Internally, it has provincial public parks, interjurisdictional parks (ANP (Protected Natural Area) Rocas Coloradas, Parque Interjurisdiccional Marino Costero Patagonia Austral, ANP Cabo Dos Bahías and ANP Punta Tombo), and private establishments with access for visitors.

The Ruta Azul

Photo: Maike Friedrich

Scenic Route 1 or La Ruta Azul connects four public access gateways, two traditional towns, two historic sites and four protected natural areas in the coastal region of the province of Chubut. Through the development of the Ruta Azul and in conjunction with the Government of Chubut, we seek to enhance the development of neighboring communities and promote the conservation of wildlife and natural landscapes that make up one of the most spectacular routes in Argentine Patagonia.

COMMUNITIES

The Sea Club. Photo: Maike Friedrich

Our vision for the Patagonia Azul project includes organizations, community groups, entrepreneurs and innovators working for a future where culture is a regenerative force.

Transition Movement

As part of our work with the community of Camarones, we participated as active members and volunteers and supported the local transition initiative. In the search for local resilience, our team joined the global movement of communities united to re-imagine and rebuild our world through a culture that cares for the environment.

The first step was to create an ambitious urban agriculture project to grow local, organic food with a low carbon footprint through systems that improve biodiversity. Our mission is to change the way the local community relates to food, and to teach others while learning more about the capacity of our productive environment, water sources and climate.

Regenerative Ocean Farming

We are developing a regenerative marine agriculture project that seeks to create farms to cultivate edible native seaweed species, which in turn, sequester carbon. These farms would also cultivate bivalves, which function as marine filters. These projects will create local employment and produce healthy foods that do not require external elements and will also encourage nearby wildlife to thrive.

Club del Mar

Many inhabitants of Camarones do not interact with the sea. To change this, we created the Club del Mar, a space where we invite the children of Camarones to explore the marine environment through weekly activities such as snorkeling, bird watching, kayaking, breathing exercises, stretching and meditation. Our goal is to strengthen their connection with the ocean so they can better understand how it functions.

Kids from Camarones attend the Sea Club meetings that our local Communities team carry out weekly to show them the marine environment and thus help protect it. Photo: Maike Friedrich

Local Environmental Advisory Council

The Patagonia Azul Project supports social inclusion, community cohesion and resilience-building through a transition initiative and the creation of a local environmental council. The creation of local groups helps to strengthen community unity and resilience. Fundación Rewilding Argentina, Transición Camarones, Amigos del Mar and the National Parks Administration are represented on this council, as are the executive and legislative branches of government.

The goal of creating this council is to unite local and governmental institutions in a joint dialogue and work together to improve the environment and discuss the future of the community. As a first step, we created a list of 15 environmental projects in Camarones, such as the creation of new laws, waste reduction and management, regulation of drinking water use, promotion of local food production, regulation of industrial activities, among others. As part of the strategy of social inclusion and community cohesion and transparency, Transición Camarones offered a series of workshops to develop methods of effective, non-violent communication and consensual decision making.

Amigos del Mar

Through interaction with the local neighborhood organization “Amigos del mar Camarones,” created in 2019, the Patagonia Azul Project Communities team organizes beach clean-up days, awareness-raising events and campaigns on fishing marine debris and is effect on biodiversity, and works with the community on best practices for household waste management.

Many of the islands in the Patagonia Azul area and the Patagonia Austral Interjurisdictional Coastal Marine Park are severely affected by the trash floating in the sea that reaches the pristine shores of these islands, which are home to a variety of marine mammals and birds. It is for this reason that we organize outings and cleanups on the park’s islands with the goal of achieving a protected area free of plastic waste.