Approximately 11% of Argentine territory is covered in native forests, equivalent to some 31 million hectares. Of these, two thirds are found in the Chaco ecoregion.
However, deforestation in the area is threatening the rich biodiversity and the sustainability of the woodlands which the local communities depend on for their livelihoods.
As a result, the “Native forests and communities” project will support the implementation of sustainable forest management programmes and the development of productive projects which will benefit up to 150,000 small producers and their families.
Peter Jipp, forest engineer at the World Bank, explains more about the importance of this initiative.
Question: What is the objective of the native forests and communities project?
Answer: In the provinces of Salta, Chaco and Santiago del Estero, 70% of rural communities live below the poverty line and the forests are their source of income. In fact, 90% of wood products produced in Argentina come from this area.
This project looks to protect both the woodlands and the communities which depend on them. So, as well as improving management of the natural resources to promote sustainable use, the initiative will increase producers’ access to markets and basic services to improve quality of life.
Question: What will the environmental impact be?
Answer: Between 2006 and 2011, 1.5 million hectares of native forests were felled due to the expansion of the agricultural sector and illegal exploitation of the forests. It’s expected that this project will help to minimise this degradation and deforestation, replacing them with sustainable management. This will have a positive impact on biodiversity conservation, reducing soil erosion and improving hydrology in the area.
Slash and burn is the most popular method for felling the forest in this region. Stopping this from continuing will bring with it reductions in carbon emissions and improvements in the woods’ capacity to store carbon. Reducing the consumption of firewood at a household level through the introduction of clean cook stoves will also have a positive impact by reducing pressure in critical areas of the forests as well as improving the environment within the home.