"Corrientes Becomes Corrientes Again" is the title of a campaign lead by CLT which aims to strengthen a sense of pride in the people of Corrientes through their nature, culture and history. Many communication channels such as posters, billboards and flyers in public transportation are part of this campaign. Its main pillars of which are culture, nature and pride, and they can be seen in the following gallery:
History of Iberá
Since colonial times, Corrientes has been a meeting point between the European and Guaraní cultures. The Jesuits succeeded in combining modernity and tradition, Catholic faith and Guaraní beliefs, and this spirit has been kept alive in this area.
Great explorers and naturalists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries such as Felix de Azara and D'orbigny penetrated into these lands and described Iberá as a natural paradise.
During the first half of the twentieth century with the advent of industrialization and global trade, Iberá began a sustained environmental degradation process causing both its landscape and its wildlife to be decimated for years.
The depredation caused by humans on the environment was so severe that emblematic species such as the tapir, the jaguar and pampas deer became extinct in the mid-seventies after being hunted indiscriminately for their hides,which were sold at local and foreign markets. This was a unique defaunation process within northern Argentina with dire consequences to the Iberá ecosystem. The green-winged and glaucous macaws disappeared from Corrientes; the later becoming globally extinct. The giant anteater, collared peccary, jaguar, ocelot and giant otter also suffered the same fate, disappearing not only from Iberá but also from the rest of Corrientes.
With the so-called "modernity", the ancestral knowledge of the men and women of Iberá became marginalized, a symbol of "backwardness" and something to get rid of. The “Mencho", a worker of the farms of Corrientes, and the “mariscador del estero” became the “lowest stratum of society”. Their skills and knowledge as well as many of the traditional artisanal techniques were disdained and lost, as was also lost the Guarani language itself when new generations stopped speaking it. Even the local buildings, such as the thatched cabins made of local grasses were replaced by concrete buildings, which are much less efficient for the Corrientes climate and also devoid of any identity.
In 1983 the Iberá Provincial Reserve was created and this process began to revert itself. Several personalities of Iberá began to protect it before it was completely destroyed. Ecotourism began to arise and the profound ancient knowledge about the wetlands estuary and their fauna began to be appreciated again, put at the service of tourists seeking an authentic and intense experience with nature. This is how the “mariscadores” –the local name for hunters-went on to become the first park rangers of Iberá. Their work was key for the recovery of wildlife. Deer, capybaras and caimans, which had almost disappeared, were sighted near Iberá lagoon once again, becoming a great resource for local development.
Tourists began to arrive and the first lodges in the Village of Pellegrini were established. Several NGOs joined in to restore Iberá’s biodiversity. The first anteaters were brought back and released in 2007. The idea of achieving a repopulation eventually proved to be successful since there are now more than 70 individuals living freely in Iberá. In 2009 the first pampas deer were taken into the heartland of Iberá with the same successful outcome. Peccaries and green-winged macaws followed them.
Ten tourism access portals were created during this wildlife restoration period in order to allow for every town of the Iberá basin to have work and development opportunities through ecotourism.
Iberá represents a unique opportunity to vindicate its natural environment and traditions in the twenty-first century. Together we can attain an Iberá where the “mencho”, livestock and traditions share the same space with wildlife and its visitors, promoting local development for Iberá to shine again so that Corrientes becomes Corrientes again.
The Conservation Land Trust Argentina (CLT Argentina) I E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org