The Chaco Salteño

The INCLUDE project represents an effort to bring together various aspects of social sciences to tackle the deforestation process that is silently taking place in a remote region of the world: the Argentinean Chaco. Unlike the Amazon rain forest, that has been rightly attracting both scientific and media interests over the last decades, the destruction of the Argentinean Chaco and the dispossession of its indigenous peoples is seldom spoken of in the media. In this sense we are indebted to the late Professor Jorge Morello, who in an email exchange with Graziano Ceddia suggested to look into the dramatic environmental degradation that was taking place in Northern Argentina, with its human and social impacts. We would also like to thank Dr. Zhanli ‘Jerry’ Sun, from IAMO, for providing some of the photos displayed on this website.

This project looks at the problem of deforestation in the Argentinean dry Chaco in the province of Salta (the Chaco Salteño). The Chaco Salteño is part of the Great American Chaco (Figure 1), the second largest tropical forest in the American continent after the Amazon. The Great American Chaco extends over Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina and a small portion of Brazil.

chaco-americano

Figure 1: The Great American Chaco

Most of the Great American Chaco is situated in Argentina (59%), where it spans across 13 provinces. The most important, for extension of native forests, are: Salta (about 8 million ha), Santiago del Estero (about 7.7 million ha), Chaco (about 4.9 million ha) and Formosa (about 4.4 million ha) (REDAF, 2012).  The Chaco Salteño (Figure 2) experiences one of the fastest deforestation rates in the world.

chaco-saltenho

Figure 2: Extension of the Chaco ecoregion in the province of Salta

Over 2 million ha of native have been lost until 2015 (Figure 3), and the average deforestation rate for the period 1970-2015 has been estimated at about 2 football fields per minute.

deforestation-salta

Figure 3: Deforestation in the Chaco Salteño until 2015 (source: http://monitoreodesmonte.com.ar/).

Yet the Chaco Salteño still represents an important agricultural frontier (with over 6 million ha of forest left) and hosts significant ethnic and cultural diversity, including both ‘criollos’ (small scale livestock farmers of European descent) and indigenous peoples (IPs).

Sources Cited:

REDAF (2012). Monitoreo de Deforestacion en los Bosques Nativos de la Region Chaqueña Argentina – Informe Numero 1, Bosque Nativo en Salta: Ley de Bosques, Analysis de Deforestacion y Situacion del Bosque Chaqueño en la Provincia.

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