The Patagonian Steppe is an important habitat for many endangered species. Most are tending towards desertification due to uncontrolled grazing, many areas showing severe erosion.
The most important alterations in the Patagonian environment conducted by the man started less than a century ago and, at present, covering the entire region.
Almost all the land is in private hands (less than 1% is owned by the State) and dedicated to livestock, the great majority.
While there are some private initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable uses of resources or preservation of species and habitats, environmental regulations on private property are difficult to implement.
The main environmental problem of the Patagonian region constitutes the advance of desertification phenomenon recognized as major causes: over grazing, indiscriminate logging of shrubs for firewood and other uses not sustained of the resources.
The Argentinian and Chilean Patagonia share a southern geography with many degrees of similarity, where most of the climatic and environmental conditions are often shared by both countries. They are also shared many of the environmental problems.
The presence of invasive species, introduced for commercial use such as beavers roughing the native forest as it has no predators to control their population.
The Minks like beavers were introduced to exploit them commercially for their fur, but now these carnivores are scattered throughout the region and live in the wild.
They eat the eggs of species of birds endemic to the point where they could place at risk of extinction.
The region lacks appropriate systems to dispose of solid waste. Industrial waste is mostly organic, considering that the main industries consist of refrigerators, meat processing both the sheep and the cattle, and fishing processing the products from the sea.
In the region there is still integrated recycling programs. There are still no significant initiatives for coordinated recycling paper, glass, plastics, tires, organic waste, etc… Currently in the region only there is market for scrap metal that does not have properly authorized collection centers.
Landfills are not the only places where dispose the trash. In general, there are many illegal sites, usually located near the coast, where people leave scrap metal or trash in general.
Climate change in Patagonia brings two types of alerts. First, a concern, since almost all variety of environmental situations critical local origin will be affected, either by increasing the sea level, increasing sea temperature, increasing the air temperature changing patterns of wind and rain.
Second, a look of hope, as all these problems have local solutions , to the extent that the governments of Chile and Argentina are committed to Patagonia, and in turn, it will commit to manage solutions.
By Gustavo Carrasquel | ANCA24