The legal framework for the protection of native forests in Salta

The purpose of this blog entry is to give to readers the possibility to familiarize with the institutional context that is relevant to deforestation in the province of Salta. Given its breadth, the topic will be addressed in a number of different entries. Here we will focus specifically on the so-called ‘Forest Law’.

Argentina is a federal republic, divided into 23 provinces, where each province enacts its own constitution under the accordance of the republican representative system. (Constitution of the Republic of Argentina, 1853). Each province has its own regulations in terms of forest use and protection.

Deforestation in Salta

Deforestation is a significant issue in Argentina, where estimates indicate that overall over 12 million ha of forest have been lost so far. In the province of Salta alone forest loss amounts to over 2 million ha (Figure 1). Most of the deforestation is concentrated in 6 departments (Anta, San Martin, Metan, Oran, Rosario de la Frontera and Rivadavia).


Figure 1: Deforestation in the Province of Salta (Argentina)

Source: graph elaborated on the basis of data from

The Federal Law 26331/2007 (The Forest Law)

The government of Argentina responded to the growing public concerns about deforestation with the Federal Law 26331/2007, which is often referred to as Forest Law. The Forest Law requires each province to approve in a participated way (i.e., by involving local and indigenous communities) a set of Territorial Regulation of Native Forests (Ordenamento Territorial Bosques Nativos, OTBN) within one year. No deforestation can be authorized unless such OTBN have been approved.  The OTBN must include zoning to designate areas as belonging to one of the following categories:

  • Category I (red): high conservation value (no deforestation allowed)
  • Category II (yellow): medium conservation value (sustainable use, tourism, research allowed)
  • Category III (green): low conservation value (deforestation and productive activities allowed).

All projects of deforestation and/or sustainable use must acknowledge and respect the rights of Indigenous Peopless (article 19). Moreover, any authorization of deforestation and/or sustainable use requires an environmental impact assessment (articles 22-25). The federal law establishes also the National Fund for Native Forests (Fondo Nacional para el Enriquecimiento de los Bosques Nativos, FNBN), with the purpose of distributing resources annually to those provinces who approved the OTBN on the basis of the proportion of their territory covered by forests and on the area under each category (articles 30-32). The resources of the FNBN should be mainly used to compensate land owners (public or private) for the avoided deforestation (70% of the resources) and to support competent authorities (the remaining 30%) to establish a monitoring system and to provide technical and financial assistance. The fund shall not be less than 0.3% of the national budget and additionally 2% of taxes on certain commodity-based exports, as well as other incomes. (Article 31 of Law 26.331). It is noteworthy that in 2014 the Fund was 14 times less than what the federal law required (FARN, 2014).

The forest legislation in the province of Salta

During the year 2008, in accordance with the federal law, the Executing Unit of the Territorial Planning of Native Forest held participatory workshops, where all affected actors, including IPs, criollos and farmers participated to create a cartographic support necessary for zoning. The province of Salta was one of the first, in December 2008, to transpose the federal law into the provincial law 7543/2008. Unfortunately, the cartographic support (required by the federal law) was not included. A new cartographic support (Figure 2), different from the one elaborated during the participatory workshops in 2008, was subsequently approved with the Provincial Decree 2785/2009.


Figure 2: Zoning for the Territorial Regulation of Native Forests in Salta


It is noteworthy that the approval of the zoning map by the province of Salta has generated discontent among the Indigenous Peoples communities and a number of NGOs. In fact, Seghezzo et al. (2017) point out that the approved zoning does not take into account the existing land conflicts, due to the divergence in interests between Indigenous Peoples communities, small-scale agricultural producers (criollos), large agri-businesses. In the next post we will discuss more in details the nature of such conflicts.


FARN (2014). Territorial planning of native forests in Salta.

Seghezzo L., Venencia C., Buliubasich E.C. and Volante J.N. (2017). Participatory, multi-criteria evaluation methods as means to increase legitimacy and sustainability of land use planning processes. The case of the Chaco region in Salta, Argentina. Environmental Management 59(2): 307-324.





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