From waterfront playground to landfill site, this reserve on the bank of the Rio de la Plata has had a chequered life, but is now a place of peace and beauty
Minutes from the car-choked streets of Buenos Aires lies an oasis of tall grasses, lagoons, soaring trees and myriad bird species. The 360-hectare Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur – a wetland between Rio de la Plata, the world’s widest river, and the Puerto Madero district – is the only place in the city inhabited by wild, native plants and animals.
With so much of the country farmed and developed, the reserve represents the original Argentine landscape. It looked distinctly different in the early part of the 20th century, when the waterfront was a popular spot to be seen sunning, strolling and bathing. But by the 1950s, the water quality had deteriorated and porteños – as the city’s residents call themselves – turned away from this playground.