Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN) and Fundación Humedales held a workshop on “Knowledge and the defence of the salt plains” on Thursday, July 5, 2018. The aim was to share environmental and social information regarding the wetlands of the Puna region in Argentina, to identify major concerns and shortcomings, and to develop recommendations for their protection. Over 30 social representatives, environmental organizations, academics and Government officials attended.
Photo: Workshop discussions
FARN´s Director of Environmental Policy, Pía Marchegiani, acted as a moderator and highlighted the importance of changing certain perspectives on the subject; beginning with understanding ecosystems and their integral knowledge before making decisions. She also highlighted the important role of consultation processes (with free, prior and informed consent). In a context marked by the current lithium boom, she warned that: “the relations between a community and a company are asymmetric. Therefore, the State must always be present. Otherwise, in the roundtable they end up negotiating rights instead of profits or other types of benefits “.
The local communities, for their part, stated that their main concern is the uncertainty generated by the exploitation of lithium, since the new techniques modify their culture and economy.
Academics addressed the problem of the lack of water in salt plains and how this shortage could be deepened due to the exploitation of lithium. Hydrogeological studies indicate this due to the functioning of the basins in which these wetlands are located. They stated that “salt plains are wetlands that are deteriorating. If restoration programs are carried out, we could avoid their loss “.
Salt plains of the Puna, located in the provinces of Catamarca, Salta and Jujuy, are home to valuable biodiversity and are a source of life for communities in the area. Since about a decade ago but especially in the last two years after the removal of mining tax withholding, lithium mining projects have begun to multiply in the northwest region of the country, with an estimate of around 42 projects in different levels of execution.
See photo: foto Salinas
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