National Parks in Uruguay

In Uruguay, natural wealth is manifested through its various national parks and protected areas of Uruguay, true havens of biodiversity and scenic beauty. These protected spaces offer visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in unique natural environments, from mighty coasts to lush forests, where the conservation of native flora and fauna is paramount. In the list of Uruguay’s National Parks, you will find natural destinations for unforgettable experiences, well-preserved sites that offer nature and adventure.

List of National Parks in Uruguay

General Characteristics of National Parks

Uruguay’s National Parks offer a diversity of natural landscapes, from forests to towering virgin coasts. They protect native flora and fauna, providing opportunities for ecotourism and outdoor recreation. With well-maintained trails and visitor services, they are ideal places to enjoy and learn about the country’s biodiversity.

Map of the protected areas and national parks of Uruguay

How Many National Parks and Protected Areas are there in Uruguay?

Uruguay boasts a diverse system of national parks and protected areas that safeguard its rich biodiversity and natural landscapes. Through the National System of Protected Areas (SNAP), the aim is to preserve places of significant biological diversity and representative ecosystems of the country, while simultaneously promoting ecotourism and sustainable development.

Among the most prominent national parks and protected areas are:

  • Santa Teresa National Park and Fortaleza de Santa Teresa in Rocha, which combines historical richness with natural beauty.
  • Cabo Polonio National Park, known for its shifting dunes, marine fauna, and iconic lighthouse.
  • Quebrada de los Cuervos in Treinta y Tres, with its impressive forest landscape and deep valley.
  • Esteros de Farrapos e Islas on the Uruguay River, a wetland complex in Río Negro with rich biodiversity.
  • Valle del Lunarejo in Rivera, characterized by its unique topography and diversity of flora and fauna.
  • Laguna de Rocha, recognized by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve for its significant biological diversity.
  • Cerro Verde, important for its ecology and archaeology, located between Santa Teresa and La Coronilla.
  • Laguna Negra, with dark-colored waters due to peat, surrounded by a varied ecosystem.
  • Laguna de Castillos, notable for birdwatching and its proximity to the Ombúes Forest.
  • Laureles-Cañas, a unique landscape of ravines and waterfalls between Rivera and Tacuarembó.
  • San Miguel, near Chuy, combining historical significance with natural beauty.
  • Bosques del Río Negro, a showcase of native forest in its purest state.
  • Montes del Queguay in Paysandú, with a wide spectrum of biodiversity.
  • Humedales de Santa Lucía, a diverse ecosystem near the capital.
  • Isla de Flores, located in the Río de la Plata in front of Montevideo.

These areas are fundamental for the conservation of Uruguayan biodiversity, providing spaces for scientific research, environmental education, and sustainable recreation. The commitment to the environment and sustainable development is reflected in the effort to preserve these natural spaces for future generations.

Protected Areas Classification System in Uruguay

National Park

These are areas that host ecosystems not significantly altered by human activity, with special scientific, educational, and recreational interest, or natural landscapes of exceptional beauty.

Natural Monument

Areas containing specific natural elements of notable national importance, such as unique geological formations or threatened species, with limited and controlled human intervention.

Protected Landscape

Territories, both terrestrial and marine, that have evolved over time as a result of interaction between humans and nature, standing out for their scenic beauty or value as a natural and cultural testament.

Protection Sites

Small areas of critical value, which may harbor species or key stages of the biological cycle, be important for the ecosystem, or contain relevant geological elements.

Habitat and/or Species Management Areas

Terrestrial and/or marine spaces subject to active intervention for habitat and species management, ensuring their conservation and meeting specific needs of certain species.

Protected Area with Managed Resources

Zones with mostly intact natural systems, where the aim is to protect biodiversity through the management of economic activities and long-term conservation.

Protection Objectives

The specific objectives of the National System of Protected Areas, established by law 17234, are as follows:

  1. Protect biodiversity and ecosystems, prioritizing the conservation of endangered or threatened native species.
  2. Safeguard natural habitats, as well as geological and geomorphological formations relevant to the survival of species at risk.
  3. Preserve unique natural and cultural landscapes.
  4. Prevent deterioration of hydrographic basins to ensure water quality and quantity.
  5. Protect cultural, historical, and archaeological objects, sites, and structures for research and public knowledge purposes.
  6. Facilitate environmental education, research, and environmental monitoring in protected areas.
  7. Offer opportunities for outdoor recreation and ecotourism, respecting the natural and cultural characteristics of each area.
  8. Promote socio-economic development through the participation of local communities in activities related to protected areas.
  9. Encourage sustainable use of biodiversity and natural habitats for the benefit of future generations.

See also