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Bringing Forest and Poverty into Focus in Argentina

CHALLENGE

The Chaco Eco-region in northern Argentina includes some of the country’s poorest communities, many of which are dependent on forests for their livelihoods. The Chaco Eco-region also suffers from the highest rates of deforestation in Argentina. Between 2006 and 2011, more than 1.5 million hectares of natural forest were destroyed, with conversion to agriculture and uncontrolled (often illegal) forest exploitation causing deforestation at a rate of 1.2 percent per year. Biodiversity has also been lost, soil and water resources have been degraded, and carbon emissions have increased.

APPROACH

This activity will describe and quantify how the rural poor in the Chaco Eco-region depend on forest-derived income for their livelihoods. Evidence from other countries and contexts shows that similar populations tend to earn 25-35% of their income from the forest. However, no such analysis has been completed in Argentina. This study will seek to answer such questions as: Do forests provide opportunities for poor households to build wealth and a pathway out of poverty? Does dependence on forest resources reflect limited options available to the poor, trapping them in a vicious cycle? How have forest policies impacted deforestation? This activity will also investigate linkages between forest dependence and land tenure, market accessibility, and social inclusion. The primary groups to be surveyed include small and medium-sized forest owners and communities, mainly of indigenous and criollo origin, 70 percent of whom live below the poverty line.

This analysis will fill a critical knowledge gap. The Living Standards Measurement Survey (LSMS) forest module will be used, and the Forest Poverty SWIFT tool will also be piloted to evaluate its utility and efficiency for data collection in the context of forests and poverty linkages.

In addition, this activity will evaluate the impact of the current Forest Fund Program in Argentina, adding new insight into the intervention’s effectiveness in preventing forest loss and land-use change, and providing direction for future improvement. Community-based maps will be produced to strengthen land management and land-tenure within indigenous and criollo communities, and support the monitoring of natural resources in adjacent forest areas.

Key outputs will include:

  • A dataset on household characteristics, incomes, and natural resource dependence in the Chaco Eco-region;

  • Knowledge products describing the results from the impact evaluation analysis, and from the geospatial and econometric analysis of forest dependence and poverty linkages;

  • Community base-maps of land use, natural resources, and land tenure in at least two communities;

  • Dissemination activities including a South-South learning and exchange event, a published report, workshops, and BBLs.

RESULTS

This activity is ongoing. Preliminary findings from the quantitative analysis shows that poor households are more likely to participate in forest-related activities than richer households. Forest income contribute on average to 30% of households’ total income. Households with older household head have higher forest absolute and relative income, and that wooden posts, charcoal, and honey significantly increase forest income, and so does having forest inside a family plot.

One of the biggest challenges with performing the impact evaluation has been working with the data provided by the Ministry of Environment, which was often incomplete and in need of extensive cleaning. The Ministry is now working with their provincial counterparts to develop a new platform to standardize how data is collected and provide more of the important details about each Forest Fund site (e.g. location and boundaries). This will significantly improve the quality of any future analyses and will also make real-time monitoring feasible.  

Additionally, after the trials drone mapping conducted, the National Parks Administration decided to buy a drone for their own use in natural resources management in a National Park located in the Chaco region, and its surroundings.

The planned presentation of the impact evaluation results to the highest-level Ministerial authorities will be very important in the process of mainstreaming the outputs of this work into related regulatory and financing mechanisms to improve the implementation of the Forest Fund.

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Last Updated : 05-22-2019

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