Dangers that lurk

While much of the natural heritage of Karukinka remains pristine and intact, threats do exist and the actions that need to be taken are critical to maintain the balance of its wildlife.

Beavers, Muskrats, American minks, Chilla (grey) foxes, rabbits, wild pigs and about fifty species of exotic plants threaten the sustainability of the park.

The objective of Karukinka is to restore the ecosystems of Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia through the reduction or elimination of invasive species. These include the beaver, a toothy rodent from the northern hemisphere that was introduced in Tierra del Fuego 60 years ago, precipitating an escalation of damages never envisioned in the subantarctic forests, peat bogs, wetlands, rivers and even in the pristine Patagonian fjords. Today beavers are the greatest predators of the Fueguian forests.

Beavers gnaw trees, build dams with the logs, create artificial ponds, flood fields and drown native vegetation, which cannot continue with its luxuriant growth. They pollute natural waterways and sediments, modifying the movement of native species, and decompose water. A disaster for the natural balance of this ecosystem.

WCS is committed to lead the eradication of beavers in Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia. So far, WCS has installed a large-scale experiment to evaluate the effect of beaver control on ecosystem restoration; coordinated control work with Argentinean public and private agencies, and organized seminars with international experts on invasive species control.

While the beaver wears out forests, the prolific Patagonian coastline runs out against the pressures of overfishing and uncontrolled tourism, endangering Karukinka waters and its surroundings, which offers protection to seals, elephant seals and albatrosses that depend on both, land and sea for their sustenance and reproduction.

Thanks to the scientific and cooperative work of WCS and other partners in Tierra del Fuego, a few years ago salmon farming was banned in this province.

Likewise, the growing commercial demand for peat bogs as organic soil enrichment dramatically threatens the fluffy peat bogs. Its industrial extraction in territories adjacent to the park is devastating for the soil and for the internal flows of water. WCS works with local and international partners to promote research and conservation of peat bogs in Patagonia.