FERNANDEZ Diana Elizabeth
congresos y reuniones científicas
Paleontological heritage protection in Argentina
Congreso; IV Simposio Paleontología en Chile; 2014
Argentine legislation comprises several efforts to safeguard the national paleontological heritage, including regulations in the Constitution and Civil Code and specific laws. Currently, it is the Federal Act N° 25743/2003 ?Protection of the Archeological and Paleontological Heritage? the one that protects, preserves and regulates the activities involving all paleontological remains and sites (on or below the surface of the Nation?s territory and territorial waters), regarding them as part of the Nation?s Cultural Heritage under the safeguard of the federal government. Some of the most prominent points of the Act (Endere, 2002) are the detailed rules introduced for the registry of sites and collections, the duties of the scientific researchers for the application to licenses, the duties of the owners of private lands where paleontological sites are discovered, the obligation to report any type of finding of fossils or sites, be it by particulars or during the course of public or private works, and the duties of the private owners of paleontological collections or items. As a measure to prevent the illegal exploitation and trafficking of paleontological sites and remains, all paleontologists planning to undertake fieldwork in Argentina must request a work license to the local authority of the study area. Following return from the field, all licensees can temporarily keep the materials for study, but eventually these must be returned to a public repository in their jurisdiction. For transfers outside the country, the permission must be issued by the National Enforcement Authority (Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales ?Bernardino Rivadavia?, MACN). The restitution of the materials to their place of origin must be guaranteed. Private collectors of fossils had the obligation to report their holdings to the National Registry within a 90-day period from the date of enactment of Act Nº 25743 in order to retain their possession. Since it was enacted, Act Nº 25743 has not been immune to criticism. For instance, it has been said that it hampers the work of researchers (Riccardi, 2005), and that it worsens an already inefficient bureaucratic network (Tonni, 2005). The Argentine paleontological community agrees, at a large extent, that the protection of the paleontological heritage is crucial, and at the same time it is interested in the matter and actively involved in it. It is also deeply concerned with the problem of the illegal trafficking that still survives. Therefore, the current legislation and the concurrent efforts of the federal and provincial governments and the national security forces represent the cornerstone upon which to continue working so that the paleontological heritage can give its full potential both to the science and to the Nation?s culture.