The coastal lagoons of Uruguay are part of a system of wetlands that spread from the country’s eastern seaboard to southeast Brazil.
The Foundation focuses on coastal lagoons because we aspire to preserve their great biodiversity, natural beauty and array of ecosystemic services of these unique areas for future generations.
These singular ecosystems, where the intermingling of fresh and salt water results in a wide biodiversity, play an important role in carbon sequestration. They act as buffers against the intensity of the ocean, reducing the impact of floods and attenuating droughts. They are highly productive areas, and sustain important economic activities like fisheries and tourism.
Their conservation, and that of their land and coastal areas, is a priority for the survival of hundreds of species – including ours.
What is a coastal lagoon?
Coastal lagoons are shallow water bodies separated from the ocean by a barrier, connected to it at least temporarily by one or more inlets and usually oriented parallel to the shore. There are four coastal lagoons in Uruguay: from west to east, Laguna José Ignacio, Laguna Garzón, Laguna de Rocha and Laguna de Castillos.
Why focus on coastal lagoons?
Coastal lagoons are an interface between land and sea. They absorb and store carbon, and reduce the impact of floods and droughts. They reduce the intensity of ocean waves, recharge aquifers and regulate hydrological systems.
Among the most productive ecosystems on the planet, they are also highly valuable landscapes and generate diverse economic activities. Their conservation, together with their adjacent land and sea areas, is essential to the wellbeing of future generations.
The coastal lagoons of Uruguay
The coastal lagoons of Uruguay are part of the Atlantic Watershed on the southeastern coast of Uruguay, covering an area of 9,266 km2 and containing the following lagoons: Laguna José Ignacio, Laguna Garzón, Laguna de Rocha, Laguna de Castillos y Laguna Negra (SNAP – MVOTMA, 2016). This coastal lagoon system is the southern remnant of a lagoon system which extends to the south of Brazil, of recent geological formation: it arose some 6,000 years ago with local sinkages and coastal rises of tectonic origin, which finalised with the stabilization of sea levels around 2,500 years ago (García-Rodríguez et al., 2001; García-Rodríguez, 2002 for SNAP – MVOTMA, 2016). 5,500 years ago the current lagoons were bays, joined with the open seas.