Vaca Viva Shale Reserve

Every time that a new gold deposit or oil field is discovered, the authorities celebrate, ringing bells of prosperity and progress: new jobs for the country, influx of foreign investment, energy independence. Everyone wants to be in the picture; guaranteed front page news.

However, there is yet another kind of “reserve,” which is much better news for the environment and which doesn’t have nearly the amount of political consensus, media visibility, and optimistic fervor that oil or gold generate: “reserves” of biodiversity. The reason for the quotes is because, in reality, these are not reserves, since they’re actually renewable resources in which life is constantly regenerating itself. This is one of those singular spots in Argentina and in the world that sustain diverse forms of life in scenes of unique natural beauty.

Some of them escaped from the devastating hand of man, since through the work of Perito Moreno they ended up being converted to National Parks, one mankind’s greatest inventions of the last 150 years. Nevertheless, since they are found on the earth’s crust as opposed to the subsoil, many times we take a long time to discover its biological value – making it so that nature can still surprise us in the 21st century.

Such was the case at the La Fidelidad estate in the Chaco forest, a site where, just a few decades ago, scientists detected its enormous potential for biodiversity and didn’t hesitate in declaring that it has all of the conditions necessary to attain the highest possible category that Argentine law allows for a location: National Park.

The scientists’ voices, however, aren’t always sufficient for the authorities to put in place necessary government action in order to reach a goal as ambitious as the creation of a National Park. It is necessary for society to mobilize in order for the case to receive high visibility and to be valued by the authorities – just as if it were an oil field or gold deposit.

It was the beginning of 2012 when Villavicencio and Banco de Bosques agreed upon the creation of an innovative new marketing campaign for a cause that would give visibility so that La Fidelidad could become a National Park.

And so, “Dejá Tu Huella” (Leave your Footprint) was born, an historical campaign that during 2012 and 2013 brought the message to millions of Argentine homes, declaring the need to save the last great forest still left standing in the Impenetrable forest of Chaco province. It was, without a doubt, a great push forward in which other businesses, schools, various NGOs, scientists, artists and thousands of individuals also participated.

Thanks to this push, today the La Fidelidad estate has the approval of the Senate and is currently awaiting approval of the Lower House in order to become the “El Impenetrable” National Park, the largest in all of Northern Argentina (two times the size of Iguazú National Park and about seven times that of the city of Buenos Aires).

What is noteworthy about this initiative is that it is, from its very roots, an inclusive project: for the first time in history, society, in its various expressions, has been given the chance to take part in the creation of a National Park – participants include businesses, schools, NGOs, government agencies, scientific institutions and private individuals.

The new economy needs to construct itself upon “reserves” of life, rather than those of fossil fuels whose devastating environmental impacts are sadly evident in our own times and will only get worse if we do not quickly alleviate our economy’s addiction to them.

It’s a much more worthwhile occasion to ring the bells of progress and to roll out the parade of smiling politicians and newspaper front pages when we create a new National Park, a new renewable energy field or a large recycling facility – all of which will bring us a brighter and more sustainable future than gold and oil ever will.

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*About Emiliano Ezcurra:

Emiliano began his career in environmental activism at the age of 16 as a volunteer at Greenpeace. He worked for six years as a volunteer before becoming part of the staff, of which he formed part for 15 more years. In Greenpeace, he participated in many of the most renowned campaigns and programs in Greenpeace Argentina.

He is currently the Executive Director of the Banco de Bosques, an organization dedicated to stopping climate change and the loss of biodiversity, as well as to generating local employment, all without destroying our last native forests.

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