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Bañados del Este Biosphere Reserve, Uruguay

The Bañados del Este Biosphere Reserve includes protected areas such as Monumento Histórico y Parque Nacional Fortaleza de Santa Teresa, Parque Nacional y Reserva de Fauna y Flora de El Potrerillo de Santa Teresa, Monumento Histórico Parque y Fuerte San Miguel, Refugio de Fauna Laguna Castillos, Reserva Forestal de Cabo Polonio y Aguas Dulces, Monumento Natural de Dunas y Costa Atlántica, Parque Nacional Lacustre de las Lagunas de Rocha y Garzón.

This ’Eastern Wetlands‘ region comprises a remarkable complex of ecosystems of high biological diversity and very rich wild life.

Designation date: 1976


Regional network:  Red de Comités y Reservas de Biosfera de Iberoamérica y el Caribe (IberoMAB) 

Ecosystem-based network:




    Surface : 200,000 ha

    • Core area(s): N/A
    • Buffer zone(s): N/A
    • Transition zone(s): N/A

    Location: 32° to 35°S; 53° to 55°W

    Administrative Authorities

    Programa de Conservación de la Biodiversidad y Desarrollo Sustentable en los Bañados del Este (PROBIDES)

    Gerardo Evia
    Ruta 9, Km. 204
    CC. 35 Rocha

    Tel.: (598.472) 5005


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    Ecological Characteristics

    Low hills on rocky substratum also occur on the ocean coast and several coastal lagoons are among the most remarkable features of the region. Most of them are separated from the sea by a narrow sand bar, which regularly opens allowing the entrance of seawater. The biosphere reserve is the only area in the country where ’butia‘ palms exist in almost pure associations covering an area of almost 70,000 hectares. At present the palm is at risk of extinction, due to the ageing of the plants and the lack of renovation of the buds that are eaten by the cattle. Dominant in the herbaceous community are Cyperaceae, Juncaceae, Gramineae, and also Monte psamófilo and extensive stands of conifers. The indigenous fauna remains almost intact except that the marsh deer (Lastocerus Blastocerus dichotomus) is now locally extinct.


    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    235,687 inhabitants (1997) live in the biosphere reserve that develop pasturing, planting of rice, cattle raising and commercial collection of fur and aquatic mammals (otter and sea lion). Some 100,000 tourists visit the reserve annually. The ecosystem is threatened with serious changes as stock raising gradually gives way to rice fields. Pesticides are now being used and there has been an attempt to dry the lake areas and alter the water levels in the flood zones. Sites of prehistoric archeological interest also exist that would have to be incorporated for their study and preservation defining their patrimonial value. The biosphere reserve develops planning and territorial management activities, incorporating the environmental dimension in local economic and social systems, local participation and knowledge generation.


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    Last updated: February 2019