A plan for the first binational Conservationist Park is underway on the Uruguay River bordering Argentina and Uruguay
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American billionaire Gilbert Butler has purchased some land he intends to hand over to the Argentine province of Entre Ríos and to the government of Uruguay for eco-tourism purposes, reported during the weekend.
Last year Butler bought three islands on the Argentine side of the Uruguay River to be donated to the province of Entre Ríos to set up a Natural Park there. Now Butler announced the purchase of another three islands on the Uruguayan side to be handed over to national authorities for ecotourism and conservationist undertakings.
The three Argentine islands, Dolores, San Genaro, and Campichuelo, together with the islands of Pingüino, Chala, and Basura, on the Uruguayan side, are planned to form the first Binational Park in the next few years.
The NGO Ambá, which in January had announced the purchase and donation intentions of the tycoon, who then sailed along the Uruguay River with President Luis Lacalle Pou, confirmed the acquisition last week of three private islands that are part of the Esteros de Farrapos National Park.
By the end of 2021, three islands were incorporated into the project on the Argentine side of the Uruguay River and will be donated to Entre Ríos to form a future Provincial Natural Park, Ambá said in a statement.
Through the initiative, we seek to consolidate a biocultural corridor of protected areas to contribute to the conservation of their species and habitats, to their capacity to respond to climate change, and to the sustainable development of tourist, educational, and scientific activities linked to their conservation, which will benefit more than half a million people living in the area, said Maximiliano Costa, executive director of the NGO.
The area of influence of this corridor was identified as highly relevant for biodiversity conservation in both countries and globally because it is home to 41% of the 2,450 plant species described in Uruguay, Ambá pointed out. In addition, the aguará guazú, considered the largest canid in South America, which is in danger of extinction, was documented there.
Butler, who made his fortune through business with pension funds, allocates part of his money to the conservation of natural areas, and his projects include areas in South America (such as southern Argentina and Chile), but also in the United States, Canada, and East Africa.
The link with Uruguay began when the El Potrero reserve, in front of Fray Bentos, on the Argentine side, invited him to visit a ranch in early 2020. The contact was through Emiliano Ezcurra, from the NGO Banco de Bosques, which worked with the multimillionaire to create shelters in the Perito Moreno Park.
Butler Conservation will provide 100% of the funding in both countries, which will be implemented by the teams of @WCSArgentina and @thewcs Cono Sur, in coordination with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), @BancodeBosques, the Uruguayan Civil Association AMBÁ and the governments of Uruguay and of the Argentine Province of Entre Ríos.
Along with purchasing these islands, this month, the kayak schools of Nuevo Berlín and San Javier, in Uruguay, donated 50 kayaks with their complete equipment to strengthen nature tourism, environmental education, and nautical sports activities.
Last January, after touring the area with Butler, Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou said this was a virtuous project with a strong vocation to make this part of Uruguay known. In addition, a concept that is not new but that we have to start making it more common is the care of the environment. It is an economically sustainable project, he added. It can become a pole of attraction for tourism for the country, he also pointed out.
Butler first reached Argentina because of his closeness to fellow philanthropists holding projects in the area. In Uruguay, Butler is working with the NGO Ambá, which is in charge of purchasing the 500 hectares and setting up the project, Costa told Montevideo’s El País.
Entre Ríos Governor Gustavo Bordet said the 2,600 hectares of islands received in the donation and another 1,400 provincial hectares will make up the Provincial Natural Park. It is an area of many nautical sports, such as kayaks and sailing, and it also offers the possibility of having several shelters.
The first one is already built, and then five more shelters will serve many people who want a place to rest or spend the night. It will be possible to do everything free of charge, he stressed.
Butler builds on the theme of the earlier great American environmentalists Douglas and Kristine Tompkins, who built some of the largest national parks in Argentina and Chile.
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