The Puna grassland is one of the three ecoregions in Manu National Park and is located at the highest altitude, above the cloud forest. It is considered one of the eight Natural Regions in Peru, but extends south as far as northern Argentina and Chile. It is found above the treeline at 3,200 – 3,500 m elevation, and below the permanent snow line above 4,500 – 5,000 m elevation.
The Puna is home to some of Peru’s most famous animals, llamas and alpaca, as well as Peru’s national animal, the vicuña. Many birds are also found there and populations are surprisingly diverse for such a harsh and extreme environment.
Unfortunately puna grasslands are being rapidly degraded by human activity, much of which is blamed on overgrazing and the use of fire. This makes the areas of puna protected by Manu especially important.
Luckily, awareness is being raised about the problem, and steps are being taken to help preserve it. Currently there are a range of management programs being introduced. In many of the neighbouring universities new ideas, on how implementation of a little technology can help restore the ecosystem, are being researched. With the right management, the puna grasslands can rebound from these threats and pressures.