Wildlife Friendly Patagonian Fiber: Building capacity for sustainability of guanaco use.

Ramiro Ovejero
Published: 19 August 2021
Last edited: 19 August 2021
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"Why? We must think on Wildlife "Friendly" Actions (WFA)"


The purpose of this solution is to highlight and expand the importance of the sustainable use of guanaco fiber due to the potential of this activity to generate local socio-economic development and become an effective conservation tool reducing the impact of the human footprint. To achieve this, we propose to 1) Promote the sustainable use of wild guanaco populations through demonstrative experiences of live-shearing in La Payunia Reserve; 2) Encourage the generation of a chain that increases the commercial value of the guanaco fiber by linking primary production sectors with the national and international textile sector; 3) Generate WFA certifications that increase the market value of the fiber, and 4) Encourage WFA actions through effective communication strategies giving visibility to the sustainable management of wild guanacos. “We believe in the power of consumers to change the Land-use paradigms”






South America
Scale of implementation
Cold desert
Desert ecosystems
Grassland ecosystems
Hot desert
Temperate grassland, savanna, shrubland
Access and benefit sharing
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Connectivity / transboundary conservation
Ecosystem services
Gender mainstreaming
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Infrastructure maintenance
Land management
Local actors
Not listed
Protected and conserved areas governance
Protected and conserved areas management planning
Species management
Standards/ certification
Sustainable financing
Sustainable livelihoods
Traditional knowledge
Increasing temperatures
Loss of Biodiversity
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Changes in socio-cultural context
Lack of technical capacity
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Sustainable development goals
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas
Target 13: Safeguarding genetic diversity
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 17: Biodiversity strategies and action plans
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Sendai Framework
Target 2: Reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030
Target 3: Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to GDP by 2030
Target 6: Enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of this Framework by 2030
Business engagement approach
Indirect through consumers
Indirect through financial institutions
Indirect through government
(I)NDC Submission


Mendoza, Argentina | Jujuy, Catamarca, Neuquén, Chubut, Santa Cruz
Show on Protected Planet


100 years of sheep farming in Patagonia led to human intolerance of guanacos, which combined with illegal hunting, has decimated wildlife populations across protected areas. Our project completed targets in 1)biodiversity conservation, by increasing the abundance and viability to one of the few existing populations that continue to exhibit annual long-distance migrations, recovery their functional role, and change the negative perception by local people for a positive one. 2)Land management, by reducing the process of desertification of arid ecosystem because livestock is poorly managed and stocked at densities beyond the carrying capacity of the range. 3) Social Solution, by building a unique textile center in the region (inside la Payunia), generating local labor, and avoiding the emigration of young people to urban centers.




A community (more than 60 families) self-organized in a cooperative-"Payun Matru". This award will help to create WFA trainers with Coop. members, to consolidate the experience in the region and expand WFA to other provinces (i.e, Chubut, Santa Cruz). 

How do the building blocks interact?

The four blocks (B1, B2, B3, B4) must work in a "bottom-up" relationship, the first (and most important) step is to obtain the raw material, the wool. The orange lines are the first steps to complete in B1, the green lines are the steps to complete in B2, the yellow lines are the steps to complete in B3 (we must meet the WFEN requirements of social and ecological sustainability, population viability of the species under management).


"Biodiversity conservation and Land management problem"

One of South America’s most vexing and polarizing challenges is how the “best way” to manage public lands established for multiple uses such as natural resource extraction, wildlife, and recreation. In arid Patagonia, more than 95% of the land is privately owned and, for the most part, was converted to sheep farming which led to severe desertification of habitats and the decline of wild species such as guanaco. As livestock husbandry has become less profitable in the last decades, many people are seeking economic alternatives.

"WFA solution impacts on biodiversity conservation and land management" 

A community self-organized in a cooperative ("Payun Matru") of people living around La Payunia reserve has been carrying up live shearing of guanacos to collect their valuable wool. We consider that the use of wild camelids (our wildlife) would have a fundamental role in reducing the process of desertification of arid ecosystems (landscape-protected area solution), providing an economic alternative (added to the high commercial value of the guanaco fiber in the external market) for local producers (social solution) and increasing the profitability of the land. We change Conflict with COEXISTENCE



















Ramiro Ovejero

"The Conflict"

One of South America’s most vexing and polarizing challenges is how the “best way” to manage public lands established for multiple uses such as natural resource extraction, wildlife, and recreation. In arid Patagonia, more than 95% of the land is privately owned and, for the most part, was converted to sheep farming which led to intolerance of guanaco in these areas, combined with illegal hunting, has decimated populations. Migration by guanacos is an endangered ecological phenomenon that persists in only a few populations (i.e in Payunia).

In rural Patagonia there are still transhumant herders, who travel along traditional routes with their flocks up to 200 km between winter and summer feeding grounds, accompanied by their families and sometimes even the children’s school teacher. Livestock is stocked at densities beyond the carrying capacity of the range, and herds are poorly managed, increasing competitive interactions with wildlife (i.e guanacos), and making livestock more susceptible to diseases that can be passed to native wildlife. This results in poor condition of livestock, decades of overgrazing (of the grasslands of the Patagonian Steppe), and an increasingly drier climate have made it more difficult for herders to survive and for ranchers to stay solvent threatening their livelihoods and culture.

"The Solution"

The local herders need an alternative to make a better living off of fewer goats and sheep. In turn, this will help habitat to recover, and reduce competition and conflict with wildlife. The guanaco is the most widely distributed of the South American Camelids, ranging from Patagonia north through western Argentina to Peru. The Payún wool is produced by the “Payún Matrú” self-organized cooperative of ranchers, many of whom are from families which have been producing goat wool for between 50-100 years on La Payunia, a 6,641 km2 protected area in Northern Patagonia. The distinctive of Payunia is based on its volcanic aspect, its landscapes, its reliefs, logically in relation to the fauna (home to over 25000 guanacos), the unique flora (“La Payunia” phytogeographic district), and the cultural aspects of the area. We are focus on this desirable solution, in order to get the Payun fiber Certification from Wildlife Friendly® association. Herders and ranchers agree to manage their livestock in coexistence with guanacos in a sustainable way. These fine fibers contribute to preserving wildlife habitat, sustainable livelihoods, and a way of life.

Contributed by

Ramiro Ovejero Instituto de Ecología Regional (IER) -CONICET-Tucumán