The designation of the Blue Patagonia Biosphere Reserve, covering an area the size of Belgium, was approved by UNESCO in June 2015 following the work of 2010 Whitley Award winner, Pablo Borboroglu and his team at the Global Penguin Society (GPS) who designed and proposed the reserve to protect a key biodiversity hotspot in Patagonia.
The new reserve will protect 3.1 million hectares of marine and coastal habitat, making it the largest in the country. Rich assemblages of wildlife including 67 species of seabird can be found along the 300km of coastline, which is the most biodiverse in Argentina. The landscape is also highly valuable for its paleontological and cultural history, possessing resources such as a petrified forest and many European shipwrecks.
The approval of the reserve is a huge triumph for Pablo and his team, as it will protect 20 penguin colonies and 40% of the global population of Magellanic penguins, which are threatened by oil spills. In 2014, Pablo became one of the first recipients of WFN’s Partnership Funding by Fondation Segré, enabling him to scale up his work to conduct research across New Zealand, central and southern Chile, Argentina and Ecuador. The funding has also helped GPS implement and improve management of penguin colonies, and reach communities and decision makers with a clear message about penguin and ocean conservation.