This project is funded through the European Research Council Consolidator Grant Scheme, and runs over a five-year period from November 2016 until October 2021. The acronym stands for Indigenous Communities, Land Use and tropical Deforestation (INCLUDE).
Tropical deforestation is an important contributor to climate change, through the release of significant amounts of carbon in the atmosphere. The main proximate cause of deforestation is agricultural expansion, followed by resource extraction. This project will look at the problem of deforestation in the Argentinean dry Chaco in the province of Salta (the Chaco Saltenho). The Chaco Saltenho, part of the Great American Chaco (the second largest tropical forest in the American continent after the Amazon), experiences one of the fastest deforestation rates in the world (on average about 2 football fields per minute over 1970-2015), 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). The project, lasting 5 years, is structured around the following macro-objectives (work packages):
- Work Package 1 – Preliminary characterization of the institutional context: the stated objectives are a) to understand the historical and institutional context associated with deforestation in the Salta region; b) to characterize the areas on the basis of the prevalent land uses; c) to assess the role of institutional and socio-economic drivers in land use cover change. The first 12 months will be dedicated to understanding the institutional context, with particular attention to the legal framework (both at federal and provincial level) regarding land use, deforestation, agriculture and IPs communal land rights. Drawing on existing data (deforestation, agricultural data), we will also estimate a model looking at how the changes in the legal framework (e.g., the Forest Law of 2007) affected the relationship between agricultural expansion, intensification, socio-economic changes and deforestation. At the same time, an overview of the situation of the various IPs communities with respect to the status of their communal land rights, will be obtained.
- Work Package 2 – Characterizing the governance structures associated with IPs land rights: the objective here is to characterize, for an appropriate number of selected communities (4-8), the existing land tenure regime and the associated governance structure (i.e., who are the key stakeholders/actors involved). We anticipate the existence of different set of actors with conflicting interests. On one hand there are actors who are directly affected by a certain configuration of land rights (e.g., IPs communities, criollos farmers, large-scale farmers). On the other hand there are actors who have the ability to promote specific land rights configurations (e.g., public administrations). We intend to adopt social network analysis (SNA) to characterize the relationship between the different set of actors. We will select communities in order to ensure variability with respect to: 1) the degree to which IPs communal land rights are de-facto implemented and 2) the degree of deforestation.
- Work Package 3 – Characterizing stakeholders’ attitudes: the objectives here are a) to characterize the attitudes of the various actors towards the process of agricultural expansion and deforestation in the region and environmental degradation more in general; b) to evaluate the attitudes towards the existing land tenure regime and governance structures; c) to allow stakeholders to develop possible solution to the existing conflicts. In particular we believe that different stakeholders have diverging attitudes, with some (e.g., public administrations, agricultural producers’ organizations etc.) more geared towards agricultural expansion. In order to characterize the different attitudes, Q-methodology will be used in appropriately selected communities.
- Work Package 4 – Resource use decision models: the objective here is to characterise the decision processes associated with resource use and extraction of various actors (large-scale farmers, criollos and IPs). In particular, the idea is to include among the explanatory variables also community level explanatory variables, particularly network metrics associated with the prevailing governance structures.