Environmental problems in Argentina

More than 16 million ha of forest cover lost between 1980 and 2000

Yacyreta dam, Argentina. / ©: WWF-Canon / Fundacion Vidasilvestre
Yacyreta dam, Argentina.
© WWF-Canon / Fundacion Vidasilvestre
Deforestation and pollution are the main threats to Argentina's biodiversity and landscapes.
A census in 1914 revealed that Argentina had approximately 105 million ha of forest. Today, studies estimate a remaining 28 to 45 million ha. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), some 16,288,000 ha of Argentina’s forest cover have been lost between 1980 and 2000.

Beans taking over forests

Research in Argentina has shown that deforestation due to agricultural expansion of soybean is threatening the Yungas ‘cloud forest’, and the Chaco ecoregion, one of the largest forested biomes (a major regional group of distinctive plant and animal communities) in South America.

In Argentina, while most recent expansion in soybean agriculture has relied on available agricultural land, there are aggressive targets to expand the agricultural area to increase soybean production for export.1

The cattle threat

Beef production in Argentina also poses a threat to natural habitats. Beef ‘feeding’, located on land that used to compete with agricultural crops, has been concentrated in the Espinal Ecoregion (an area of thorny deciduous shrubland forest) threatening grasslands and forests.

Similar impacts have occurred with cattle ‘breeding’, which has expanded into the Chaco ecoregion and is threatening forests. These processes are closely linked with an increasing demand for suitable land for soy cropping.2


Other environmental problems

Argentina also faces the issue of energy consumption and management and the inefficient use of non-renewable resources.
 / ©: David
Yunga cloud forest, Argentina
© David
 / ©: WWF
What is WWF doing about the problems?
© WWF

Sources

1 Dufey A., Baldock D. & Farmer M. 2006. Impacts of Changes in Key EU Policies on Trade and Production Displacement of Sugar and Soy. Study commissioned by WWF to IIED, with the collaboration of IEE. 180 pp.
2 Carey C., Oettli D. 2006. Determining links between agricultural crop expansion and deforestation. A report prepared for the WWF Forest Conversion Initiative. 71 pp.

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