Evaluation of the legal protection of forests in Salta

In the former blog entry, the legal framework for the protection of native forests in Salta, Argentina, was described. The main tool adopted by the government is the 2007 Forest Law, which requires the use of land use planning. To facilitate the implementation of this law, the National Fund for Native Forests (FNBN) was established. Almost 10 years after the passing of this law, deforestation rates remain high. Seghezzo et al. (2016) estimate that in the province of Salta over the last years the deforestation rate stood at 2.5% p.a. of remaining forests, against a Latin America average of 0.51% p.a. and a world average of 0.2% p.a.

In this post, we want to describe some of the issues associated with the implementation of the Forest Law in Salta that may explain the persistence of high deforestation rates in the region.

According to the federal Forest Law of 2007, each province must approve (through a participatory process involving also local communities) a set of Territorial Regulations of Native Forests (known as OTBN), including a cartographic support indicating areas belonging to different categories of protection (see former blog entry for details). The Federal Decree 91 of 2009, regulating the federal law, also requires provinces to update the OTBN every five years.

The federal law was transposed into the provincial legislation in Salta through the provincial law 7543 of 2008 and through the associated regulating decree 2785 of 2009.  In 2015, the province of Salta (in accordance with the requirements of the federal Forest Law) published a report describing the experience of the first 5 years (i.e., 2009-2014) of implementation of the provincial law and, based on such experience, proposed an update of the existing OTBN.

The 2015 report, in our opinion, is indicative of the problems associated with the implementation of the forest law in Salta. Firstly, the report presents an actualization of the previous OTBN by incorporating the more recently approved land use plans. Such plans pursued the recategorization of areas, overwhelmingly from category II (yellow, medium protection) to category III (green, low protection). In fact, the report illustrates a total of 32 projects for which the change of conservation category had been approved, affecting an area of 144,984 ha. Because of this recategorization the areas under low protection in the province has increased from 293 ha to 81,282 ha. Secondly, the report illustrates how over the first 5-year period of the implementation of the forest law in Salta, 465,406 ha were deforested of which half (257,828 ha) were cut down illegally.

It is worth noticing how the federal law prescribes that recategorization of areas should be pursued only to allow higher protection of native forests (e.g., from category III to category II). The NGO FARN correctly points out that the OTBN actualization plan in Salta is against the federal law (Di Pangracio et al., 2014). Moreover, the fact that a large amount of illegal deforestation occurred, in spite of the provincial and federal legislation, seems to suggest that the law is ineffective. This conclusion is reached independently by different authors (e.g., REDAF, 2012; Glisclard, 2015). The correct implementation of the provincial law, requires the effective use of monitoring and control mechanisms (Schmidt, 2014). The resources for monitoring should mainly come from the FNBN. In 2014 the resources of the FNBN were 14 times less than what the federal law prescribes (FARN, 2014) while transparency issues in the management of such resources have also been raised (Romero, 2012). This, unfortunately, is not an encouraging sign.


Di Pangracio A., Giardini H. and Moreno D. (2014). Ley de Bosques: actualizaciones y recategorizaciones, ni un paso atrás. Informe Ambiental Annual. FARN.

FARN (2014). Territorial Planning in Salta.

Gisclard M. (2015). Un principe de solidarité territoriale au cœur de la loi de protection des forêts en Argentine. In L’Espace géographique 3, pp. 259–272.

REDAF (2012). Monitoreo de Deforestación en los Bosques Nativos de la Región Chaqueña Argentina. Bosque Nativo en Salta: Ley de Bosques, análisis de deforestación y situación del Bosque chaqueño en la provincia.

Romero J.E. (2012). Forest conservation in Argentina: early analysis of the Forest Law implementation in the Chaco Ecoregion. Masters dissertation. British Columbia University, Vancover. Resource Management and Environmental Studies. Available online at, checked on 11/17/2016.

Schmidt M.A. (2014). Bosques nativos en Salta. Entre el ordenamiento territorial y los re-(des)ordenamientos posibles. In Geograficado 10 (2346-898X).

Seghezzo L., Venencia C., Buliubasich E.C., Iribarnegaray M.A. and Volante J.N. (2016). Propuesta para incluir los conflictos de tenencia y uso de la tierra en la revision del Ordenamiento Territorial de Bosques Nativos (OTBN) de la provincia de Salta.


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