Peninsula Mitre protected in Tierra del Fuego

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Peninsula Mitre. Photo: Rewilding Argentina/Joel ReyeroPeninsula Mitre. Photo: Rewilding Argentina/Joel Reyero


Legislators in Argentine Tierra del Fuego, gathered in an extraordinary session on Tuesday, December 6, voted in favor of protecting Peninsula Mitre, a decades-long demand of scientists, NGOs and others in Tierra del Fuego.
Myriam Martínez, a Tierra del Fuego legislator with the Frente de Todos political party, told Radio Nacional of Argentina that it was “historic.” Said Martinez,” We are all very happy, very happy, to have reached this day that we thought would never happen.”
Martínez added that "the law will allow us to have a legal framework on the one hand, and on the other hand, an obvious regulatory framework for the protection and management of the whole territory of Península Mitre, but above all for the issues that will come later, with the integrated management plans."
The new Natural Protected Area is some 10,000 square kilometers in size, amassing the eastern end of the big island of Tierra del Fuego and the marine area around Isla de los Estados.
Rewilding Argentina, in a press statement, told Patagon Journal that the protected area will also protect 84.4% of Argentina's peatlands, making it the “greatest point of greatest carbon sequestration in the country,” which is a key contributor to reversing the global climate crisis.
Peat bogs are a type of wetland that hold the largest reserve of terrestrial organic carbon on the planet, while macroalgae forests have the capacity to sequester carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the greenhouse gases that most contributes to global warming.
Peninsula Mitre. Photo: Rewilding Argentina/Joel ReyeroPeninsula Mitre. Photo: Rewilding Argentina/Joel Reyero
Distances, remoteness and harsh climatic conditions have allowed this part of Tierra del Fuego to remain pristine and preserve in excellent condition important samples of these ecosystems. In 2019, a study based on data from the United Nations World Environment Conservation Monitoring Center found that Peninsula Mitre, due to its large peat extensions and particular composition of moss species, absorbs 4.5 times more carbon than other peatlands.
The coasts of Peninsula Mitre are also noteworthy for concentrating 30% of the macroalgae forests of the Argentine Sea. Because of their enormous capacity to sequester carbon, these "underwater forests" are considered one of the most productive ecosystems in the world.
The area is also home to numerous seabirds and marine mammals. Isla de Los Estados is home to the largest colony in the world of the yellow-plumed penguin, with 140,000 pairs.
Rewilding Argentina says that by “declaring Peninsula Mitre a Provincial Natural Protected Area, the legislators of Tierra del Fuego made a historic decision that will have an impact on the world and will prevent the degradation of one of the few ecosystems of exceptional environmental value that remain intact on the planet.”

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