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Balancing food production and nature conservation in the Neotropical dry forests of northern Argentina

Summary: Balancing food production and nature conservation in the
Neotropical dry forests of northern Argentina
H . R I C A R D O G R A U *, N . I G N A C I O G A S PA R R I * and T. M I T C H E L L A I D E w
*CONICET­Laboratorio de Investigaciones EcoloŽgicas de las Yungas, Universidad Nacional de TucumaŽn. CC 34, Yerba Buena 4107,
TucumaŽn, Argentina, wDepartment of Biology, University of Puerto Rico, Box 23360, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 00931-3360, USA
The growing human population and the increase in per capita food consumption are
driving agriculture expansion and affecting natural ecosystems around the world. To
balance increasing agriculture production and nature conservation, we must assess the
efficiency of land-use strategies. Soybean production, mainly exported to China and
Europe, has become the major driver of deforestation in dry forest/savanna ecosystems
of South America. In this article we compared land cover patterns (based on satellite
imagery) and land-use and human population trends (based on government statistics) in
regions with two contrasting development pathways in the Chaco dry forests of northern
Argentina, since the early 1970s. The area (ca. 13 million hectares) includes one of the
largest continuous patches of tropical dry forests and has experienced rapid land-use
change. In the region where land use has been driven by government-sponsored
colonization programs, the expansion of extensive grazing has led to a growing rural
population, low food production, and widespread environmental degradation. In con-
trast, in the region dominated by market-driven soybean expansion, the rural population


Source: Aide, Mitchell - Department of Biology, Universidad de Puerto Rico - Rio Piedras


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology