How Argentina is Devastating the Second Largest Forest in South America

When it comes to forests in South America, Brazil is highly charged by Europe and the United States for the preservation of the Amazon. However, the second most important continuous forest system in the region is far from generating the same international mobilization: the Gran Chaco, whose area is distributed by Argentina (60%), Paraguay (23%), Bolivia (13%) and Brazil (4%).

This large dry forest biome has had 14 millions of hectares deforested since 1985, and in Argentina the devastation in the period exceeded 8 million hectares, for use mainly by livestock and the production of transgenic soy, with exports mostly to China and Europe.

The history of the area that would become the O Impenetrable National Park (which was created in 2014), located in the Argentine province of Chaco and which constitutes an important remnant of the biome , with 128 thousand hectares (the entire Gran Chaco has just over 1 million square kilometers), was marked by the activities of criminal groups, the murders, disputes between companies, local and national governments and NGOs and portrayed in the documentary “El silencio del Impenetrable”, by director Ignacio Robayna.

Ignacio Gasparri, researcher at the National Research Council Scientific and Technical Research Institute of Argentina (Conicet) at the National University of Tucumán, explained to the news website about the environment ((o))eco that deforestation in the Argentine Gran Chaco is mainly carried out by companies with great investment capacity that promote “total deforestation ” in short cycles, of a few years, in which “they go through a whole path that goes from livestock to agriculture and, sometimes, to direct agriculture”.

“In terms of the surface area that this region has, compared to the Amazon, is emitting a lot , even though it has less than half the biomass that the Amazon Forest has per hectare. However, the emissions are equivalent in orders of magnitude”, warned Gasparri.

Environmentalists accuse the government of the province of Chaco of collaborating in this devastation, and then the bill can be charged in a large part of Peronism: in the 37 years since 1985, President Alberto Fernández’s Justicialist Party did not govern the province only for 16 years.

The current governor, Jorge Capitanich, who has held office for two other terms, is of the legend and was chief of staff of the Argentine presidency during the administration of Cristina Kirchner.

Environmentalists pointed out that the Ministry of Production of the Chaco presented in July a new updated map of the Territorial Planning of Native Forests that put the biome at risk.

“A group of companies and public officials, behind closed doors, decided to make a map that we consider regressive and completely illegal, in which large regions of the Impenetrable p roasted from the ‘yellow’ category to the ‘green’ category. The urgency is to make this visible so that Justice can act. We are following two lawsuits against the provincial government for mismanagement of forests”, reported Riccardo Tiddi, physicist, satellite image technician and member of the Somos Monte Chaco movement, to Filo.News.

According to the classification, categorization 3 (green) allows much greater economic exploitation of an area, even if it is partially or totally transformed, with the previous Environmental Impact Assessment.

Tiddi pointed out that, at the current rate of devastation, even 2050 the forest may cease to exist. “The forests of some reserves, parks, indigenous communities [no Gran Chaco] will remain, but the rest will be lost. This scenario is chilling for us who live here, to think that when we are 70 years old, there will be nothing left, it’s scary”, he warned.

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