Protected areas of the Puna.
This work analyses the characteristics of the Puna Protected Areas and explores the role they play for environmental protection and social strengthening, and how they interact with the socioeconomic sphere. There are 14 protected areas in the Puna of Argentina, covering more than 5,000,000 hectares, or 32.4% of the region. Creation of protected areas started in 1972, and the latest one created dates from 2012. The Jujuy Province presents the highest number of PA (7, 1.388.159 hectares), while Salta Province protects the largest surface (1, 1,444,000 hectares). Most of the protected territory corresponds to provincial administrations (96.4%). The implementation of protected areas is heterogeneous but generally low, with important weaknesses, including lack or limited legal land delimitation, management plans, and human resources (both technicians and rangers). Thus, despite its large area and its potential complementarity with other conservation initiatives, Argentinean Puna protected areas are not fully prepared to meet XXI-century challenges of the region, such as effective inclusion of local communities and their productive activities, mining expansion, and adaptation to climate change. Finally, we propose a review of key aspects that may contribute to a better regional management of PA.