News / 26 August 2022

Fires in the Paraná Delta show urgent need for a Wetlands Law

In Argentina, the wetlands of the Paraná Delta are burning. The fires, caused by human activity and aggrevated by climate change, clearly show the wetlands need protection. The Argentinian organisations that form part of the Wetlands without Borders programme are therefore calling for a strong "Ley de Humedales", a Wetlands Law.

For three years in a row, the region experiences severe drought and the water level of the Paraná river is extreme low. In this context, the fires in the wetlands could increase dramatically: more than 700.000 ha in 2020 and 2021, and over the course of 2022 almost 200.000 ha have burned down.

Fires are not a natural phenomenon in the Delta. According to data of the Argentinian Ministry of Environment, 95% of the fires are caused by human activities, like clearing the land for cattle or for real estate developments. But although most of the fires are preventable, no real preventive measures have been taken and government efforts focus mainly on fighting the fires instead of fighting the underlying causes.

Ley de Humedales

The Argentinian civil society organisations from the Wetlands without Borders network (Casa Rio, CAUCE, FARN and Taller Ecologista) have been calling for a Wetlands Law for years already. This law should secure the conservation and respectful use of the country's wetlands, for which it is needed that the areas that are considered to be wetlands are defined, that a budget is assigned to their protection, that the local communities that live in the wetlands are consulted in decision-making and that a gender perspective is included.

With their campaign #LeyDeHumedalesYA! (Wetlands Law NOW!) they collected already more than 750.000 signatures that back their asks. But although it has been on the agenda of parliament several times, the law still has not passed congress.

Statement and actions by civil society

In a joint statement, the 4 organisations are now again calling for the Wetlands Law and for the implementation of the PIECAS-DP (Comprehensive Strategic Plan for Conservation and Sustainable Use in the Paraná Delta), a plan that exists for almost 15 years. Both the Wetlands Law and the PIECAS-DP have broad support amongst civil society organisations and if implemented, would prevent such out-of-control fires in the Paraná Delta in the future.

On the 3rd and 4th of September, civil society throughout the whole country will organise actions to loudly ask for the Wetlands Law again.

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