Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Gran Chaco: Deforestation Progress on a Major Bastion of Argentine Biodiversity

EL PAÍS offers the America Futura segment for its daily and global informational contribution on sustainable development. If you want to support our journalism, subscribe here,

While COP15 was taking place to protect the global loss of biodiversity and the EU establishes legal obligations to stop trading products related to the destruction of forests, a new Regional Order of Native Forests (OTBN) in the Argentine province of Chaco is being discussed. This puts at risk what remains of what was once the Gran Chaco, the second most important South American lung after the Amazon.

Argentina protects a great biodiversity. That is why the so-called Basic Forest Act enacted 15 years ago was a milestone in addressing the crisis of these ecosystems in the country. Since the year 2000, the forest—mainly present in the provinces of Chaco and Formosa and, to a lesser extent, in Salta and Santiago del Estero—has lost more than a quarter of its forested area.

Through the story of three indigenous communities in the north of the country, Greenpeace Argentina’ Yaguerete; Past, Present and Future?’, three short documentaries on the spiritual bond of this species with the native peoples of the region. Ariel-Sebastian Vocellino / Greenpeace

The Chaco OTBN which came into force in 2009 established three categories for forest areas: Red-I, for areas with high conservation value that should not be altered; Yellow-II, of medium conservation value, which can be degraded as long as adequate restoration activities are carried out; and Verde-III, of low conservation value that can be partially or fully modified.

“The advancement of economic limits on native forests has occurred over decades through pressure from three sectors: timber forestry which extracts mainly tannins; the farmer who wants to plant soybeans, corn, and cotton; and real estate, which allocates territories through the Institute of Colonization”, a researcher at the Argentine National Council of Science and Technology (CONICET), explains in an interview with América Futura.

The OTBN’s update sparked controversy as it seeks to enable a change in land use to the Yellow-II category in the departments of Almirante Brown, Guémez and San Martín in the north of the province—thus reducing the current protection standards by 300,000. A forested area of ​​more than a hectare, an area comparable to the urban sprawl of cities such as Lima or Madrid.

“It not only goes against the national law and the principle of environmental progress, but also condemns illegal clearing. The fact that these blank spaces are depicted on the new map as if the forests never existed , makes it possible to think that deforestation didn’t even exist, so there would be no approval or requirement to restore something that never existed.

Paradoxically, Chaco’s Ministry of Environment is not the enforcement authority of forest law, instead it depends on the Ministry of Production. “We have also created a permanent monitoring office to detect illegal clearing,” said Tomas Camarasa, the province’s environment ministry undersecretary for environment and biodiversity.

Despite the fact that the new regression map was drawn up by a technical panel consisting mainly of actors from the agro-forestry sector, with little participation from indigenous peoples and the scientific sector, NGOs such as we are mount chaco It managed that there is currently no treatment date for any proposal within the so-called “OTBN law” in the provincial legislature.

It Feels Hot But It’s Clearing Up

From north to south of Argentina, the climate crisis is making itself felt in the form of desertification in the Gran Chaco, heat waves in the center of the country and fires in Tierra del Fuego. There is currently very little water in the Bermejo River that crosses the Chaco province supplying various aquifers, and what little remains is contaminated by the presence of cyanobacteria, another effect of climate change that is already causing floods. produced that have influenced cities such as Chaco. as Castelli at the start of the year.

Firefighters And Volunteers Try To Control Flames Destroying Forests And Wildlife In Corrientes (Argentina).
Firefighters and volunteers try to control flames destroying forests and wildlife in Corrientes (Argentina).anadolu agency

“This year there was practically no melt contribution from the Sierra de Santa Victoria to the Chaco [en la zona norte de la provincia de Salta], where the Bermejo River is born, due to less ice formation due to global warming”, says Camarasa. “Cyanobacteria are a direct consequence of climate change in the province, and we see a scenario where it could continue to grow . To mitigate the effects of the climate crisis in the Chaco, we must find a way to reduce deforestation.

When consulted about complaints made by civil society and the recent controversy on Twitter with Greenpeace as a result of the new OTBN, Governor George Capitanich replied that “the major deficit we have now is to reverse this situation”. , that is the lack of financing and the lack of support to get those funds”. And he adds: “But we believe that we are working in the right direction to strengthen the options that we have within Together with the people allow to protect the original environment. We will continue to work to live this paradigm shift which understands that ‘there is no social justice without environmental justice’, which is promoted not only by governments but primarily by civil society and the sector.

From Buenos Aires, Greenpeace’s executive director for the Andean region, Natalia Machin, said that “there has been no serious environmental policy from Argentine governments since the 1990s. And today the time has come to reflect on it. In the Chaco, from 2007 to date, half a million hectares have been lost, half illegally and unregulated. The current proposal of the governor, Capitanich, consists of exactly this: whitewashing, forgiving all the illegal clearing done and giving the green light to destroy another million hectares”.

ecosystem services or desert areas

According to the indigenous people of Vichy, real estate on the biological corridor of the dry Chaco generates a “defeated zone”, as it is a very unpredictable area where crops and pastures fail due to lack of water, for which communities are expelled. is done. The forests they separate on the periphery of the towns.

“The loss of flora and fauna species does not only affect native communities that depend on the forest as their supermarket or pharmacy. The absence of the jaguar, the quimillero peccary and the tatu carreta and other endemic species of the Chaco and the threat of extinction cancels out the possibility of ecotourism that attracts visitors from all over the planet”, condemns the CONICET researcher.

The new map proposed to update the OTBN considers a controversial polygon called Juana, with spaces painted white, which to researcher Mastrangelo is as if the forest “never existed”. “Hence there will be no clearance or need to be reinstated. This not only goes against the national law and the principle of environmental progress, but also condones illegal cleaning.

Rio Bermejo In The Gran Chaco Biome In Argentina.
Rio Bermejo in the Gran Chaco biome in Argentina.Martin Katz (Greenpeace)

However, Juliet Rojas, an agronomist at INTA and the Land Degradation and Desertification Observatory, explains that soils subjected to deforestation for agricultural use in the Western Chaco lose physical and chemical quality over a very short period of time. “Mostly organic carbon; You can lose up to 40%. And it is important for mitigating climate change and its damage accelerates global warming and desertification processes. On the other hand, deforested soil tends to be compacted with respect to native forest, thus reducing the infiltration of forest soil by up to four times, making it easier to flood when it rains”.

move beyond orthodox ideologies

For Mastrangelo, there are productive activities compatible with the maintenance of the forest that have enormous potential, but have never received support from the government to scale them up to a sufficiently profitable level. One of the scientists who know well the socio-environmental problem of the Chaco explains, “Beekeeping, ecotourism and even forestry extraction of some wood can be done in a sustainable way, if the regeneration time is respected.” which some companies currently do not.”

Capitanich comments that 50 years from now he envisions a Chaco with full recovery of its native forests and degraded environment through the consolidation of payment mechanisms for ecosystem services such as the eco-token project, although preliminary, considerable Has the ability to change to an extent. The province’s social-productive matrix, as through a blockchain traceability system can ensure that the money generated directly positively impacts the local communities that protect those forests.

Greenpeace Documented A Bulldozer Destroying Native Forest 30 Km From Miraflores, Despite The Fact That Weeks Earlier Chaco Justice Had Ratified A Suspension Of Clearing.
Greenpeace documented a bulldozer destroying native forest 30 km from Miraflores, despite the fact that weeks earlier Chaco Justice had ratified a suspension of clearing. Martin Katz / Greenpeace

The governor of Chaco states that they are discussing reforms to tighten restrictions and controls, and will continue to demand that the national government fully integrate funds set forth by national law for the conservation and protection of the ecosystem: “Out of every 1,000” hectares of forest that the law obliges us to protect, we are only given funds corresponding to 100 of those, and this makes the law a legal instrument that is practically impossible to comply with. 900 hectares.

“Argentina has been inserted into an accelerating world and into a crumbling planet”, concluded Machin. “What is coming needs to be better. We must make a leap in quality in our debate. Maintaining that the destruction of nature will make us less poor is a canned and misleading argument, but more unethical and Contrary to reality and laws, it is the responsibility of the state itself and its officials to meet the necessary funds for the protection of forests.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Deskhttps://nationworldnews.com
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
Latest news
Related news