The Forest Law and the loss of natural habitat in the Chaco Salteño

Graziano Ceddia and Elena Zepharovich published new research, showing the impact of land titling to IPs and the Forest Law in the province of Salta on the loss of natural habitat in the Chaco Salteño. Through statistical analysis they show that  the approval of the Forest Law in Salta has been ineffective at slowing down the loss of natural habitat and is associated with the emergence of Jevons paradox via the increase in agricultural productivity. Moreover, this new institutional context appears to have increased the pressures on IPs land and encouraged preventive clearing on these lands.

The article is featured in the journal Land Use Policy and can be accessed here


INCLUDE featured on Argentinean National Radio

Graziano Ceddia and Nicholas Bardsley, investigators within the INCLUDE project, were featured in a programme broadcasted by Radio National in Tartagal (Province of Salta). The researchers had the opportunity to briefly present the objectives of the project. At the same time they launch an invitation to the indigenous community along the Road 86 to meet in Tartagal to discuss the communities’ perspectives on the deforestation problem in the region.

For more information, follow this link

3 Post-Doctoral Research Positions


Opening for 3 Post-doctoral research positions, each starting in November 2017, of which 2 positions will be held at the Centre for Development and Environment of the University of Bern (Switzerland) for a period of 36 months each and one position at the School of Agricultural Policy and Development of the University of Reading (UK) for a period of 42 months. These 3 research positions are part of the ERC Consolidator Grant funded project “Indigenous Communities, Land Use and Tropical Deforestation” (INCLUDE).

Detailed information on the posts and application procedures can be found at the following links:


Post-doctoral Researcher 1 (temporarily not working)

Post-doctoral Researcher 2 (temporarily not working)

Post-doctoral Researcher 3 (temporarily not working)


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.

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.




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.


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.


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.


Figure 3: Deforestation in the Chaco Salteño until 2015 (source:

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.