Zero Residues Project on Peninsula Valdez
Financed by Cempre Argentina Fundacion AVINA – Coordination by FuNaFu.
The project main objective consists in the development of a management system of domiciliary residues from Peninsula Valdez, in the province of Chubut. This experience innovate in the fact that do not pretend to change the main role of the State, but starting with a participative integral management system of urban solid residues (USR) that includes a differenced classification in the origin, the recuperation of valuable residues and the appropriate final disposition “off shore” of those not recoverable. All this should involve local people and the setting of an education system to the community and tourists.
Peninsula Valdez and the Residues Problematic
Peninsula Valdez, situated in the province of Chubut, has an area of 3.625 km2 and it is a lair of one of the most extraordinary zoological collections. By the way, and to show some of the species of the zone, we can mention orcas, dolphins, whales -declared national natural monument- sea wolves and southern sea elephants. We can add guanacos, grey foxes and a great variety of species in the centre of the peninsula and those with their habitat near the coast, like penguins and seagulls.
Beside it is a provincial reserve, at the end of 1999, the peninsula was added to the list of those places considered as World Patrimony by UNESCO, with Galapagos Islands, Krueger National Park in South Africa, Serengeti flatness in Tanzania, and others.
Inside this reserve, and 90 km from the city of Puerto Madryn, it is Puerto Piramides, an urban conglomerate of 300 inhabitants that receive 160.000 tourists per year approximately, that make a great challenge the conservation of the peninsula and the responsible management of the tourist caudal that increase each year. In other words, this situation implicates a daily average of 300 tourists, which has as consequence huge amounts of residues that exceed the community capacity for recollection and final disposition.
This reason made that, near to the place of boarding the boats for the whales excursion, has been settled a garbage dump with an enormous growing, that not only constitute soil pollution, but also a source of landscape devaluation, according to the polyethylene bags and other wastes that spread all over the virgin areas of this patagonic steppe, as a consequence of the constant and strong winds of the zone.
It must be seen that actually great part of the sea gulls feed with residues available in the nearby dumps, and that this fact of excessive growing multiply the number of sea gulls. The situation constitute a very important problem knowing that these birds attack the whales for feeding with their skin and fats, hurting them and changing the behaviors of these mammals during reproduction or breeding periods.
According to a study of the Whale Conservation Institute, the whales in the breeding period spend almost a quarter of the day trying to avoid been attacked, in a displacement that decrease their energy with the risk of increasing mortality of whale calf and the movement to quiet places.
On the other hand, the growing of Puerto Piramides dump has produced an important fly invasion which is difficult to control, being a big risk of pollution.
As it can be appreciated, the presence of these dumps threatens not only for people health, soil quality or the fauna reserve, but also to the main economic activity: tourism.
Development of the project
The first part of the project developed between April 2002 and September 2003. This first stage implicated a deep investigation process and the development of relations with authorities of the province of Chubut, the municipality of Puerto Madryn and the commune of Puerto Piramides.
This connection has as a result the signature of a collaboration agreement with the province and an ordinance in which the Municipality of Puerto Madryn accepted to receive for its final disposition the residues of Peninsula Valdez on its own dump, with the objective of making Peninsula Valdez an area with no residues.
The different studies tried to know the population of the Peninsula, the amount of tourists each year, the residues produced by both groups and a future estimation, considering the future projections that nature tourism has for the next years.
Complementary, it has been analyzed the economic benefits of eradicating all residues from the protected area -this include an improvement in the tourist resource quality-, the costs of starting the new system and the way of distribution between future beneficiaries of the enterprise.
Finally, there had been studied some management proposals for residues that may be successful with the objective of making Peninsula Valdez a place with no residues, that were presented in a participative process that finished with a public audition in Puerto Piramides on September 11 of 2003.
On a participative way, provincial authorities, enterprises associations involved in conservation, guides, and citizens of Puerto Madryn and Puerto Piramides were met.
They show interest and recognized the benefits of searching altogether a solution for the residues problematic, by a system that consists in transfer them to sanitary filler at 100 km to the south, belonging to Puerto Madryn, the main city receiving tourists. This city maintain its policy of nature conservation through an ordinance that place in a compromising situation the reception of residues produced in the provincial protected area.
In addition, there were two workshops with the aim that local community could have information to arrive to a solution according to the mentioned problematic.
Beside the participative process, on December 2003 it was carried out a leaning of the coasts and dunes in the outskirts of Puerto Piramides. This reason includes the international collaboration of The Ocean Conservancy, organization that is in charge of the international cleaning of beaches, and the local organization Recrear.
On March 2004 it was carried out the cleaning of the residues dispersed in the region near the dump, and it was filled to avoid this situation again. Afterwards it was constructed a platform to place the containers of the residues from the peninsula.
Finally, on May 2004, started the “learn to set about the environment” program of Fundacion Junior Achievement Argentina, for students from the School Nº 87 of Puerto Piramides. It was two weeks long and based in the analysis of the elements from the environment and its problematics that are the wastes, pollution dangers and the destiny of these wastes, management alternatives and the importance of valorization of the resources. As a part of the program, the students carry out a field study to analyze the residues volume produced in 4 or 5 places selected by them. problemática analizada.