Argentina has experienced a significant decline in its native forest cover, largely due to an expanding agricultural frontier for beef and soy in regions such as the Chaco. In addition to contributing to negative climate change impacts, this process seriously threatens the country’s rich biodiversity, as well as its key ecosystem services upon which the well-being of local communities depend.
To help reverse this trend, Argentina’s Congress passed the so-called “Native Forest Law” in 2007. This law is aimed at promoting the conservation of natural forests, including by establishing a framework that instructs all 23 Argentinian provinces to carry out land-use planning and zoning in their forested areas.
To strengthen this process and improve sustainable management of Argentina’s native forests, the National Cabinet on Climate Change developed the National Action Plan on Forests and Climate Change, with support from the UN-REDD Programme. This plan was part of a set of government actions aimed at promoting sustainable development and fulfilling international commitments under the Paris Agreement.
The actions defined in the plan are more likely to promote sustainable development if they are designed and implemented in a way that contributes to other existing sustainable development goals beyond climate change mitigation, such as biodiversity conservation and promoting local livelihoods. However, the potential of these actions to deliver non-carbon benefits usually depends on factors that are highly location-specific. For example, the most important forests for wildlife conservation may not be the most important for water regulation. In this context, maps can help to better understand and inform land-use planning.
To provide the best possible information on the topic, UNEP-WCMC partnered with Fundación Vida Silvestre and the UN-REDD National Programme in Argentina to identify how the actions defined in the National Action Plan on Forests and Climate Change could be designed to deliver multiple environmental and social benefits and to present the results in a form accessible for decision making.
The team identified a set of key environmental and social benefits that the conservation and sustainable management of forests could potentially deliver in each of the six Argentina’s forest regions. The list of benefits included environmental benefits such as the conservation of biodiversity and the protection of soils, and social benefits such as poverty alleviation. These benefits were then mapped, using the best available data, to identify areas of overall importance for the provision of those benefits.
The results of this work are currently being used by Argentina’s National Directorate of Land and Environmental Planning to inform the development of the GEF-funded project, Incorporating Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Land Management in Development Planning: Operationalizing Environmental Land Use Planning (2019-2024). This project aims to harmonize the activities of key productive sectors in priority habitats and ecosystems in three pilot provinces: Buenos Aires, Jujuy and Mendoza. The report also identified areas of national environmental significance to inform the next phases of the project, including the creation of new protected areas.
A preliminary version of this map of areas of environmental significance was reviewed in a series of regional stakeholder workshops during May to July, 2019. UNEP-WCMC participated in one of these workshops, which took place in San Salvador de Jujuy, providing advice on how to improve and better support decision-making processes.