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Results Briefs April 18, 2022

Boosting innovation for conservation and local development in Argentina


The Argentina Rural Corridor and Biodiversity project supported innovative investments in rural communities to implement nature-based productive activities that led to the sustainable use of almost 200,000 hectares of native forest. Around 1,000 campesinos and Indigenous people living in and around natural protected areas (45 percent of whom were women, and 42 percent Indigenous) enhanced their livelihoods by producing native honey, raising sustainable livestock, and providing nature-based tourism services. The project enhanced conservation and climate resilience of more than 750,000 hectares within the biodiversity corridors.

For the local population, with limited income options, native and non-native honey production reduces pressure on forests, since it replaces, in part, the need to earn a living from charcoal, a practice that can deplete forests and produce negative health effects. At the same time, it strengthens local biodiversity by caring for the forests that provide bee habitat. “The bee feeds on the flower of the quebracho, the carob tree, the lapacho and the garabato. This project is an opportunity to recover the forests we live in”… It helped producers become aware of nature as a source of resources beyond wood, campaigning with sawmills and woodcutters not to destroy the swarms and preserve them. Now the families know that the trees are home to the swarms, so they take care of the trees,” says Silvia Godoy from the Cooperative Union of Small Producers of Chaco (UNPEPROCH) of Pampa del Indio.


Between 2001 and 2019, Argentina lost 15 percent of its forest cover,  reaching a deforestation rate three times higher than the average for Latin America. Deforestation for agriculture and livestock are historically the major drivers of forest loss, especially in the Chaco region, where 87 percent of deforestation in the last 10 years occurred.[1] Some of the poorest and most isolated people in Argentina (often Indigenous and campesino) live in the Chaco, and they are heavily dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods. These forests, and therefore the livelihoods of the people living in and around them, are particularly vulnerable to encroachment and climate change.


The project sought to increase the protection of vulnerable natural areas and conserve biological diversity within the Gran Chaco Ecosystem, as well as in the Patagonian Steppe and Coastal-Marine Ecosystems. It aimed to enhance biodiversity resilience to climate change and protect forest carbon assets.

The World Bank worked with the Argentine National Parks Administration, adopting a “corridors approach” to conservation and productive use of lands. This approach was able to create greater continuity and connectivity among the country’s ecosystems, and to increase coherence in the protection of biodiversity through the national and provincial parks systems. This project implemented innovative investments in ecosystems friendly activities, including native and non-native honey production, nature-based tourism, and regenerative cattle-ranching (which closely manages where and for how long animals forage, building soil health and carbon stocks) to improve the livelihoods of local communities while preserving local ecosystems and enhancing biodiversity resilience to climate change.

Honey from native bees was approved by Argentina’s food administration and technology to support its production was developed with the project support, opening up new opportunities for its commercialization. Organic production of non-native honey from local forests was also certified for international markets, bringing new and increased value to nature and ecosystem services and consequently empowering local communities to protect these ecosystems.


The project contributed to making the rural economy more climate-smart by enabling rural communities to implement nature-based productive activities that led to the sustainable use of almost 200,000 hectares of native forests.

Other key results are:

  • From 2015 to 2021, the project financed key infrastructure works and equipment, trained around 260 park rangers, and supported the design of nine protected areas management plans using participatory mechanisms, leading to 576,161 hectares achieving a better level of biodiversity protection.
  • Governance at federal, national, and sub-national levels was strengthened by the reactivation of the Federal System of Protected Areas (SIFAP) and led to the development of a Common Action Plan in 2019. Nature conservation in protected areas supports climate change mitigation and adaptation.  
  • Until its closure, in December 2021, the project supported the introduction of sustainable landscape management practices for 195,227 hectares adjacent to protected areas in the conservation corridors. In those areas almost 1,000 people from local communities (45 percent women and 42 percent Indigenous) have received monetary or non-monetary benefits from the forests they live in.
  • Between 2019 and 2021, three biodiversity conservation corridors were designed covering at least 4 million hectares (including 10 percent of the Chaco region in Argentina).
  • During the entire project lifespan, climate change mitigation was pursued through the protection of 14.6 million tons of forest carbon.

[1] Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Argentina. 2021. Native Forest Area Monitoring Report of 2020.

Bank Group Contribution

The World Bank, through the Global Environment Facility (GEF), provided a grant for $6.29 million to help finance this project.


Argentina’s National Parks Administration implemented the project and provided $13 million in co-financing. The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Territorial Development of the Chaco Province, the National Institute on Agriculture Technology, the Wildlife Conservation Society, Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina (WWF’s local associate) and several local producers’ associations, among other governmental institutions and non-governmental organizations participated in the design of the conservation corridors and the implementation of the subprojects for innovative and sustainable use of ecosystems. 

Looking Ahead 

The project investments and results are expected to be sustained, as the corridors were adopted by local governments, and the innovative sustainable productive activities developed are now included in provincial sectoral strategic plans. The activities piloted and the results obtained thanks to the GEF grant will be enhanced and scaled up by a new project recently approved, to be implemented in 13 landscapes and seascapes across Argentina. The Sustainable Recovery of Landscapes and Livelihoods in Argentina Project will be financed by a $45 million International Bank for Recontraction and Development (IBRD) loan, with $3 million of counterpart funding; and will leverage a $12 million grant from PROGREEN, a multi-donor trust fund managed by the World Bank. 

Learn More 

WB blog post: “Innovative investments in nature: Native honey from the Chaco forest of Argentina”

El País feature: “Las abejas levantan la economía de comunidades indígenas argentinas”  

Mongabay press release: “La miel que protege los bosques del Gran Chaco | Argentina”