Soy and cattle driving wave of illegal deforestation in Argentina

Monday, November 21st, 2016

Soy plantations and cattle ranching are driving a wave of illegal deforestation in northern Argentina, according to a report published by Greenpeace this month.

A third of the recent deforestation in four northern provinces has taken place in areas protected by the Forest Law, according to the Greenpeace Argentina report. The main drivers of this deforestation, in the provinces of of Santiago del Estero, Chaco, Salta and Formosa, are the expansion of the agricultural frontier for soy and cattle ranching, and forest fires.

The four provinces account for 80 per cent of deforestation in the country, according to Greenpeace.

The 2007 Forest Law has led to a reduction in deforestation, but between 2007 and 2014 deforestation reached 2,107,208 ha, of which 626,244 ha occurred in protected areas.

An area of 75,742 ha was cleared in the four northern provinces between January and October 2016. A third of this was illegal, amounting to 25,536 ha.

By province, deforestation reached:

  • 19,663 ha in Santiago del Estero, of which 12,863 ha was protected forests.
  • 19,581 ha in Formosa, of which 421 ha was protected forests.
  • 18,522 ha in Salta, of which 4,318 ha was protected forests.
  • 17,976 ha in Chaco, of which 7,934 ha was protected forests.

Greenpeace argues that the fines have not been enough to stop deforestation. Areas illegally deforested have not been reforested as demanded by law, with very few exceptions. According to Greenpeace, collusion by civil servants in illegal logging is clear.

Greenpeace recommends that Argentina’s congress makes illegal deforestation and forest fires (for land conversion) criminal offences, makes the issuing of permits for forest clearing in protected areas a criminal offence, and force those responsible for illegal deforestation to reforest the cleared areas.

The report can be found here (Spanish).