September 28, 2009

Argentina’s Forests Suffer Nearly 70 Percent Loss

The forests of Argentina have suffered a loss of between 60 percent and 70 percent overall, the Environmental Secretariat reported on Friday.

"In 100 years, we have lost between 60 and 70 percent of our forest heritage," said Environmental Undersecretary Sergio La Rocca.

Forests have fallen from 100 million hectares in 1900 to 33.19 million hectares currently, officials said during the ninth session of a conference for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

A study authored by researchers at the College of Agronomy at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), found that the Argentine province of Salta suffered a 26 percent loss of its forests during just the past 30 years.

In 2007, "the highest rate was reached: 2.1 percent of forests destroyed in a single year," according to the UBA study, which was cited by AFP.

Although authorities in Salta had allowed the deforestation to take place, the Supreme Court ordered that deforestation activity be ended in the province.

The UN estimates that the desertification has impacts on 200 million people.

"Sustainable land management, rehabilitation of degraded areas and other investments to realize food security must be attended to in a systematic manner, but if business as usual sustainable continues to prevail, then we will have the perfect storm," said William Dar, Director-General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

The UNCCD conference is aimed at developing and discussing new methods for monitoring and assessing land degradation.

More than 200 scientists attended the three-day international conference. It was organized by five international research institutes collaborating under the Drylands Science for Development (DSD) Consortium, working in collaboration with the Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the UNCCD Committee of Science and Technology (CST).

According to AFP, Buenos Aires is slated to welcome the 23rd World Forestry Congress October 18-23, which will bring members of governments, civil society and the private sector together to discuss ways to combat deforestation.


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