Iguazu Rainforest | Misiones - Argentina
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Useful Information | Our Area

  • The Interior Atlantic rainforest.

The Interior Atlantic Forest or Parananense Forest is one of the two south branches of the original Southamerican Jungle. Both branches reach Argentina at the very north of the Country.

At the northeast occurs the interior Atlantic Rainforest and at the northern west the Cloud Forest or Yungas. Both even small areas are the most bio-diverse of our Country.

Unlike the Argentine Yungas, this forest is mostly presented as continuous, forming along the Brazilian Atlantic rainforest another major ecoregion in South America separated from the Amazon by an extensive barrier less wet running from the Gran Chaco to the Caatinga in northeastern Brazil.

This system currently covers central and northern parts of the province of Misiones. To the south lies outside this area as marginal riparian forests, mountains and narrow edges associated with the rivers of the basin of the Rio de la Plata.
The climate is warm and humid, with rainfall throughout the year (1,500 to 2,000 mm), more plentiful in summer. The average temperature varies between 16 and 22 º C, with mild winters and warm summers.

Located on hilly terrain, with mountains of low-rise, rising ranging northeast to reach 900 m. 

The floor is latheritic, it concentrate a large amount of ferrum and aluminium. While oxidising this high concentration of ferrum produce a marvellous red colour which creates a notorious contrast with the lush green vegetation. 

The dominant vegetation type is subtropical. The canopy is located between 20 and 30 meters above ground level, below which there are layers of smaller trees, dense undergrowth with tree ferns and reeds, grasses umbrófilas and many lianas, vines and epiphytes. Within the tree layer can not be said that there are dominant species, since an hectare is shared by a dozens of different tree species, each represented by few individuals.

The presence of frost is a constraint to the development of tropical crops.

This is one of the units with the highest number of protected areas created, almost all located in the province of Misiones. There are various conservation agencies involved: there are two national reserves, twelve provincial, municipal, and seven private being Yacutinga Private Reserve one of them. A high priority project is the integration of the various protected areas to diminish the effect of fragmentation of the whole unit.

 

The main conservation problem that must face this unit is the replacement of the original forest to crops.

Selective extraction of the finest woods and deforestation for cropping or pasture implant has been underway since the beginning of the colonization of the region at the cost of reducing jungle and damaging the surface remaining shelters.

The replacement of native jungle to planted forest as Pine plantation reduces biodiversity.

An irrational exploitation of the environment, coupled with heavy rainfall and rugged terrain, greatly accelerate soil erosion, with consequent loss of productive capacity of the land and an increase in sediment carried by rivers and streams (which facilitate the sedimentation of dikes and cause other environmental negative impacts).

Wild fauna has suffered a significant setback, either by hunting or by the disappearance and fragmentation of the natural environment they inhabit, to drive some species to the limit of extinction in Argentina, as is the American Jaguar, the Harpy Eagle and the aquatic Anaconda. 

More recently there is the threat of major infrastructure projects, primarily hydroelectric dams that flood vast areas of natural areas, causing the disappearance of ecosystems and species. The communities most sensitive to these changes are associated with rapid and shallow water courses and the gallery forests, which are interrupted in their normal flood cycles. Yacyretá Dams (Corrientes) and Urugua-i (Misiones), along with numerous similar projects would be located on the Parana and Uruguay could cause profound changes on this ecoregion.

The highly endangered Interior Atlantic rainforest present in the argentine state of Misiones is the main continuous remnant of this high diverse Eco-unit worldwide.

Wild fauna has suffered a significant setback, either by hunting or by the disappearance and fragmentation of the natural environment they inhabit, to drive some species to the limit of extinction in Argentina, as is the American Jaguar, the Harpy Eagle and the aquatic Anaconda. 

More recently there is the threat of major infrastructure projects, primarily hydroelectric dams that flood vast areas of natural areas, causing the disappearance of ecosystems and species. The communities most sensitive to these changes are associated with rapid and shallow water courses and the gallery forests, which are interrupted in their normal flood cycles. Yacyretá Dams (Corrientes) and Urugua-i (Misiones), along with numerous similar projects would be located on the Parana and Uruguay could cause profound changes on this ecoregion.

The highly endangered Interior Atlantic rainforest present in the argentine state of Misiones is the main continuous remnant of this high diverse Eco-unit worldwide.

 

The Guarani Culture.

In the center of South America had settled-after Central American native migration an ethnic group with a vast territory: the Tupi-Guarani.

Before the start of the Christian era, the several human migratory movement were forked in their journey to the South. On one hand, human groups headed to the Atlantic coast and to the west, taking the course of the Amazon and its tributaries. On the other hand, the Guarani group moving south and east reaching the basin of the Rio de la Plata.

The Guarani, using canoes and rafts to travel through the rivers, they chose a place to settle that should meet the requirements of typical "landscape Guarani": land crisscrossed by rivers, heights rather low and moderate temperatures. This migrant people, seeking suitable land to develop their very productive farming corn, cassava, sweet potatoes, beans, peanuts, pumpkins and squash, bananas, pineapples, cotton, and many herbal medicinal plants, whose surpluses motivated large parties and equitable distribution of products according to a good economy of reciprocity and gifts.

 

The occupation of new territories was not always peaceful. Sometimes very strong local tribes were preventing them from advancing.

After successive migrations that lasted for centuries, its territories occupied a vast region that stretched coast between north Tietê River, penetrating into the interior through the basins of the rivers Paraguay, Parana and Uruguay, settling in Paraguayan territory, southeastern Bolivia and northern Argentina.

The occupied region with colossal denominations had very different landscapes, separated by vast distances and tribes from other groups. Their language was learned by different people and was useful for use in trade, and eventually became the general language known by the tribes of southern Brazil, Paraguay, eastern Bolivia and northeastern Argentina.

Upon arrival of Spanish and Portuguese people at this part of South America around 1500 Guarani individuals formed a group of people - called the "Guarani Nation" - which had a common origin and spoke the same language. The Guarani language today is a way of memory to kept alive ancient traditions.

The Jesuits largely respected the unity of Guarani territory between the river Paraguay to the west, the Rio de la Plata to the south east and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, settling in the area with no kore than fifty people between the seventeenth and eighteenth century.

European colonialism, both Portuguese and Spanish, labor exploded Guarani, causing death and cultural destruction. The current is equally aggressive colonialism, to strip them of their lands and territories fragmented.

 

  • The Jesuit Missions

The Jesuits realized that to protect the Indians had to do separate communities of the areas colonized by Europeans. There could live in freedom and dignity, but had to pay taxes to the Crown. So they came to establish and manage 30 villages in the area of ​​the river Parana until their expulsion in 1768 by order of Charles III King of Spain. Today only persist eight of the others are only ruins and memories. Usually call them "the lost cities of Paraguay". These Jesuitis missions are located in 3 countries, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil.

There were almost constantly in a state of siege, first Paulistas or Bandeirantes Portuguese and Spanish settlers lurking hunting slaves, on the other, the nomadic habits of the Indians who had never lived in cities.

To defend the Indians, the Jesuits successfully insisted that missionary work fell within the jurisdiction of the Pope and the kings of Spain. The Jesuits tried to keep their Indian isolates of Spanish colonists for two major reasons: to protect the Indians from being enslaved and isolate them from European diseases.

It is surprising and can only be explained as the work of God for 150 years, a group of only 50-60 priests ruled over 140,000 Indians giving them the Gospel, and the best of European culture. They did it without material gain. Men of a deep spiritual life solidly grounded in Christ. Men full of love for Christ and his people, willing and well trained to suffer what is necessary to "greater glory of God and the good of souls." His spirituality was based on the "Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola" (which are a form of meditation disciplined to live the Gospel deeply) and the "discernment of spirits" (rules to distinguish the inspiration of good and evil spirit) .Theyalsohad a formidable training as Catholicpriests.

Rarely some Natives abandoned the Jesuit Reductions, and never killed any Jesuit. Reductions Indians never made an important attempt of rebellion. Something very extraordinary among human institutions. The communities were Christians. The love of Christ, the Church, Christian morality was the ideal he was teaching,

This Social Experience was based on free communities. Every Indian family had their private lives and personal property.
Urban planning was centredaround a large square. Along with this, the Church was the most important building. Also next to the square usually located the school for religious education and human formation.

There was a "safe house" for orphans and widows, workshops for stone and wood carving, make instruments of all types, including music, painting schools, orchards, livestock and a cemetery, a sacred place for the Indians.

Many, even among Christians criticize the missionary work to the Indians claiming that they should not be influenced in any way. They forget the mandate of our Lord to "preach the Gospel to all nations and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:18). It is true that one should not confuse the Gospel with all aspects of Western culture, but that did not happen in the Reductions. The Jesuits wanted to protect the Indians from the abuses of the Europeans.

They came in the name of Jesus Christ to share the greatest treasure: faith in Jesus Christ and at the same time give themselves by sharing love they knew he could help. For example Jesuit Reductions which abolished capital punishment was practiced at that time in all European countries (Western society were the first to abolish the death penalty). Moreover banned cannibalism was practiced in America. The Jesuits served as teachers and real parents.

The most serious problem and resulting consequences in the lives of the Guarani and the performance of the Company of Jesus was the Treaty of Madrid in 1750 and the swap of the seven eastern missions for Colonia del Sacramento, as this led to his expulsion.

The Colonia del Sacramento had lost its importance as the basis of English smugglers to install the seat in Buenos Aires British by the treaty of Utrecht. Pombal, favorite of Carvajal and Doña Bárbara, was proposed change by the burgeoning Eastern Missions consist of seven missionaries peoples east of the Uruguay River, and incidentally himself recognized Portuguese sovereignty in Rio Grande and Santa Catalina until then discussed by the Spanish. That, and a close alliance with Portugal, was the subject of the 1750 Swap Agreement.

This stipulated that the colony was returned permanently to Spain. But it had to give in compensation to Portugal all the territory between the rivers Uruguay and Ibicuy (Rio Grande do Sul), which were located seven villages founded and ruled by the Jesuits and inhabited by about 30,000 souls. Residents should withdraw to the west bank of Uruguay, leaving their hated enemies Portuguese all their houses, churches, lands and fields, for which compensation would be given in the sum of four thousand pesos for Colony.

The Jesuits claimed in all levels; protested to the Viceroy, the Hearing, the Council of the Indies, the confessor of the monarch and the monarch himself, supported his argument for more enlightened view of the province. But to no avail. It was useless to denounce the clear intention of penetrating Portuguese the way to the Peru to approach rich regions. King Ferdinand VI, was stubborn to abide by his royal mandate and sent a commission composed of the Marquis de Valdelirios and P. Lope Luis Altamirano to enforce it.

Andonaegui immediately noticed the mistake and tried to delay the execution, with the hope that the Crown, better informed steps back. I knew I would have to fight the militias selfless Guarani, whose loyalty to the Spanish monarchy and handheld devices with services rendered to the creditor made a more honorable action.

He must take the field and go through with the unfortunate task of combating secular faithful subject and brother in arms for the benefit and with the help of the traditional enemy.

The fight was hard and bloody. There were naturally prevail over Andonaegui military skills, which gave victory in a last battle fought on February 10, 1756, which killed 1,500 Guarani natives.

They were fulfilling the provisions of the treaty when he arrived in Buenos Aires Andonaegui successor, Don Pedro de Cevallos, a distinguished general who had become famous in the wars of Italy. Shortly after landing missions moved and established his headquarters in San Borja.

He soon took charge of the situation and realized the error and duplicity Lusitanian policy, especially information began carefully to flow through his government. The Portuguese boss, Freire Gomez field master, not only swelled the occupation of territory that corresponded, but moved slowly southward, taking positions outside the limits set by the treaty and back away from the colony, surreptitiously strengthened its defenses , encouraging smuggling intense from there. Given this evidence, Cevallos insistently asked Spain to send troops and weapons, while preparing for the fight to strengthen the garrison of Maldonado.

The happy circumstance of the death of Fernando VI, in August 1759, made him hear. The new King Carlos III was quick to cancel the Swap Agreement. Moreover, the change of policy which opened this reign and the signing of the new "family pact" made inevitable war with England and Portugal.

 

The Mate, our traditional drink.

The origin of mate is lost in time and the American tradition records the same legend in northern Argentina and southern states of Brazil.

The name derives from the word matte Quechua mati, a word that was used to call me pumpkin container, which was easier to pronounce for the Guarani caiguá Spanish, who performed the same function.

The native Guarani, sipping the drink container through tacuapí, small straw used as a light bulb, or chewing their leaves during their long walks.

According to historian Ruiz Diaz de Guzman, was Hernando de Arias and Saavedra, in 1592, who discovered in guayacas mate (kind of purses) of natives who fell into his hands.

Very soon spread that drink, which the Spanish exaggerated their benefits. The Jesuits prepared it as a tea (matte sewn), because they distrusted the bulb matt, attributing diabolical connotations, so he applied all kinds of prohibitions. To denounce him to the Inquisition of Lima in 1610 as "clear suggestion of the devil".

Curiously were the Jesuits were the first to engage in the cultivation of yerba mate scientific name Ilex paraguayensis.

Studies in the United States indicate that yerba mate is rich in polyphenols, antioxidants with great power to the immune system, the body's defense, protecting cell destruction by free radicals. The infusion of yerba mate was revealed as a potent antioxidant ascorbic acid (vitamin C), with properties similar to red wine in his role as strong antioxidant and inhibitor in the oxidation of low density lipoprotein.

It contains a stimulant called mateína that improves mental activity, increases energy, improves concentration, while anxiolytic stimulant, increases resistance to physical and mental fatigue, is antidepressant, etc..

Has 15 different amino acids, vitamins B1, B2 (riboflavin), C, A, carotene, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium and manganese which prevent muscle lactic acid, being a natural energizer appropriate for athletes.

The Yerba Mate tree belong to the family Aquifoliaceae like the Laurel, whitish gray trunk with a diameter of about 30-40 cm and average height of 2-6 feet, although at pristine jungle specimens have been found to reach 12 meters high. Its leaves are alternate, narrow base and serrated edge, varying in size from 8-10 cm. wide.

The plant mate born in wooded areas, subtropical and temperate red land high, up to about 400 meters above sea level (south east of Paraguay, western Brazil South, Misiones and Corrientes Northeast.) In these places, the plant roots reach a great development, depth and volume, which explains its production period, close to 150 years.

Mate is an acquired taste. This may seem strange to foreigners, in fact it is, is a custom of the region.

It also happens that confuse mate outside the region with some kind of drug like marijuana. When the Pope came to Argentina I got to try a dunk that undoubtedly was bitter and could barely hide the grin on his face.

Do not assume that because we are used to take that will be enjoyable for foreigners: get used. And then yes, it's like saying the gauchos, a vice, nobody stop taking it. I know very well in the regions like Syria where they beat, but take it individually, each with its container.