From whom and for what? Deforestation in Dry Chaco from local-urban inhabitants’ perception
Wednesday, August 4, 2021
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Sofia Marinaro, Instituto de Ecologia Regional, CONICET, Yerba Buena, Tucuman, Argentina, Laura Valeria Sacchi, ECOCIENCIA, CÓRDOBA, Argentina and N Ignacio Gasparri, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales e IML, Universidad Nacional de Tucuman, Argentina
Instituto de Ecologia Regional, CONICET Yerba Buena, Tucuman, Argentina
Background/Question/Methods Deforestation is the major threat for subtropical and tropical forests, aiming to meet the global-human population increase. Besides the ecological damage it represents, Latin America remains one of the most unequal places globally. Thereby, the social dimension it harbors is equally threatened than the ecological one. Here, we explored local-urban people’s perception regarding the social dimension of deforestation, in agricultural frontiers of Dry Chaco ecoregion, an area hotspot of deforestation. Therefore, we (1) identified agricultural-frontier stages, where we quantified local-urban people’s perception regarding (2) main drivers of deforestation, (3) main social actors responsible for it, and (4) if deforestation drivers impact positive or negatively on their own livelihoods. We calculated percentages of area converted at year 2000 (% CLA00), and during 2000-2013 (% CLA00-13), from land-cover maps of Baumann et al. (2017). By cluster analyses we classified 28 urban centers into agricultural-frontier classes, where we addressed 254 semi-structured interviews to local-urban people. From interviews data, we calculated the percentages of mentions regarding drivers of deforestation and social actors responsible for it, per agricultural-frontier class. Finally, we analyzed the arguments in favor and opposing to recent (i.e. since ~1990) and local land-use changes, and calculated the C-coefficient between arguments and drivers. Results/Conclusions The story behind deforestation in Dry Chaco between years 2000-2013, as told by local-urban people, is that local-rural people live surrounded by forest, from where they freely take natural resources (i.e. forest exploitation). The locality is a new-agricultural frontier, characterized by low level of transformation. Then, a company arrives, buys fields, and sell them at higher prices (i.e. real-estate transactions). Livestock appears in those fields recently bought from extra-regional people. However, neither livestock nor real-estate transactions brings improvements to the town, nor economic benefits, according to local-urban people discourse. Rural population start declining by outmigration. Now the locality became an incipient-active frontier, characterized by increasing land-use changes. After a new threshold, the locality becomes an active frontier, where deforestation processes accelerate. So, services increase in the town, sometimes bringing infrastructure improvements and jobs. But then deforestation stops because of scarce forest area, land-use changes limit to crops replacement, and jobs’ offering stops. The town has become into a mature frontier. Agricultural-frontiers classification allows understanding changes in the social dimension tied to land-use changes, and would allow to predict social-ecological trajectories. Governmental and societal engagement are crucial for meeting the rising demand for food by simultaneously alleviating poverty and protecting ecosystems.