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FEATURE STORY

Development and Conservation Travel Together in Northern Argentina

August 2, 2012

The Gran Chaco Americano is the largest forested area on the continent after the Amazon. 

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Environmental factors are rarely taken into account when planning new road works.
  • Several impact studies have been undertaken and NGO and community recommendations will be put into practice
  • The route will have explanatory signage and speed bumps. Controls on hunting have also been proposed.

The paving of provincial route No. 3 in the northern province of Chaco seeks to set an example of how to plan and design an infrastructure project putting particular emphasis on respecting the environment.

The 60 kilometre road from Pampa del Indio to Rio Villa Bermejito is over 50 years old. By paving it, more communities can be connected, developing tourism and commercial potential, while conserving the region’s biodiversity.

During the environmental assessment process, it was identified that the part of the project to be financed went through a vulnerable natural habitat: the Gran Chaco Americano.

With an area spanning 100 million hectares, it is the largest forested area on the continent after the Amazon. In Argentina alone, about 2 million hectares (10% of the total) have been lost in the last 20 years due to deforestation.

 "We are taking this opportunity to develop tools to protect natural resources and preserve cultural heritage," says Veronica Raffo, World Bank Task Manager for the Norte Gran Vial project, which funds the work.

Beyond engineering

The National University of the Northeast and INALI-CONICET undertook Baseline Biodiversity Upgrade Program, "to facilitate regional conservation planning of the Chaco region corridor," said Marcelo Acerbi, World Bank Environmental Specialist.

The research included a survey of plants and animals in the area affected by the construction, an analysis of the conservation status of the species, the determination of protected areas and proposals to mitigate the environmental impact.

Open Quotes

We are taking this opportunity to develop tools to protect natural resources and preserve cultural heritage. Close Quotes

Verónica Raffo
World Bank Task Manager for the Norte Gran Vial project

 "The ways of Chaco: Roads and Landscape Conservation in the Chaco Region" (sp) report was also prepared for this project, providing a technical approach to route planning and design in fragile landscapes.

Alejandro Brown, president of the ProYungas Foundation and author of the report, points out that the key areas to conserve along the route and proposes the incorporation of explanatory signage, effective traffic calming measures and controls against illegal logging and hunting.

 "The paving project of Provincial Road No. 3 goes beyond a simple matter of engineering to include such high environmental standards," says Alejandro Salamon, Social and Environmental Expert from the Ministry of Federal Planning Office.

The experience allowed a participatory work of multiple agencies and the strengthening of the Department of Roads of the Chaco, which now has more knowledge to move forward the planning of its territory.