Optimización de los criterios y técnicas aplicados a la ordenación y restauración hidrológico-forestal de cuencas hidrográficas, desde sus inicios hasta el presente



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D11.4 Argentina


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Executive summary……………………………………………………….………153

Common perceptions on forest and water in Argentina.……………….………155


  1. Introduction…………………………………………….………………………156


2. Main features of Argentina……………….…………………………………...156


    1. General features

    2. Water resources

    3. Forest and National Parks

    4. Floods and their impact




  1. Analysis of the institutional and legal framework for forest management in the Andean Patagonia………………………………………………………………………161

3.1. Geographical framework

3.2. The forests and the forest management

3.3. Objectives and Scopes

3.4. Legal and institutional framework

3.5. General considerations

3.6. Management difficulties

3.7. Guidelines for forest management in relation with water resources

3.8. Literature cited in chapter 3


  1. Analysis of the institutional organization and normative frame for the management of the water resources in the Andean Patagonic Region………………………………………………………………………….166

4.1. Normative and institutions in charge of the management of the water resources



4.2. National water policies

    1. Water organization in the provinces

    2. The Federal Water Council

    3. Watershed Agencies

    4. Provincial water policies

    5. Research Institutions and Universities




  1. Conclusions……………………………………………………………………..172


Executive summary
The Republic of Argentina is a federal country of 23 provinces and the autonomous City of Buenos Aires. The owners of natural resources are provinces and they are in charge of environmental management. Due that in Argentina “national” means “pertinent to the nation (composed by the union of the provinces)” while “federal” usually means “trans-provincial” or “interprovincial” with the exception of the “Federal District” (Buenos Aires city).
Particularly this document regards to Patagonia region that extends from Colorado River at approximately 40 degrees South to Tierra del Fuego Island at the Southern end of South America is a semi-cold plateau characterized by little precipitation and strong westerlies from the Andes. The southern part of Patagonia is characterized by lakes formed by glaciers.
In this region forest have an area of 36.189 Km2, corresponding to the 8% of the native forests of the country. The subantarctic native forests of Patagonia are temperate deciduous forests, with presence of some coniferous forests. The most common genus are Nothofagus sp., Austrocedrus sp. and Araucaria sp. (Cabrera, 1976). The protected areas in the whole country occupy an area of 150.000 Km2 (5,26 % of the national territory), 49.000 Km2 (32,3 %) corresponding to the subantarctic forests. While the existing system of protected areas is extensive in comparison to other countries in the Latin America region, a recent National Parks Administration (APN) analysis estimated that less than 21 percent of the total area under protection is adequately managed, 30 percent is under some form of management, and almost 50 percent (mostly under the jurisdiction of provincial or municipal authorities) receives very little or no management support.
Water resources, on the other hand, are unevenly distributed, with about 84 percent (580 km3/year) located in the lower Paraná basin, which represents only 10 percent of its territory. The rest of the country is either arid, with average rainfall of less than 400 mm/year (mid-west and the Patagonia), or semi-arid with a rainfall between 400 and 800mm/year (mid-west and northwest). In the arid zone total runoff is equal to 74 km3/year (Atlantic basin) and only 5.7 km3/year in a large endorreic basin (without outlet to the sea) covering several provinces of the country. The driest regions are the Northwest and Cuyo with only 7.3 km3/year and an availability index of about 1,800 m3/inhab/year.
Flooding is the major natural hazard in Argentina, where the phenomenon poses a major challenge to development. According to international statistics, Argentina ranks 18th in the world in potential flood losses, in excess of $ 3 billion a year (US$ 3 billion in 1998). Argentina is also one of 14 countries whose potential flood losses are greater than 11,1 percent of GDP. In Latin America, only Ecuador has a higher GDP exposure from flood risk. In pure potential economic loss terms, Argentina has the highest risk in Latin America (Calcagno, Gaviño, & Mendiburo; 2000; WB, 2001)
The management of forest resources in the Andean Patagonia Region normally did not include or take into consideration the relationship between erosion, landslides and floods caused by the forest management system applied. Therefore it is not possible to identify which are the systems which produce the less impact. However, legislation in some provinces like Tierra del Fuego includes practical measures to reduce water erosion impact. The election of the system with less hydrological damage should include the planning and locating of roads, promote the use of directional felling, produce a low impact in the remaining canopy, promote the conservation of species, keep similar characteristics in micro hydrometeorology and in the decomposition and mineralization cycles, keep the heterogeneity in the forest structure of the original forest and keep the characteristics of the landscape. The legislation does not contemplate the problems of water erosion, landslides and floods caused by the silvicultural system applied. The mitigation of the hydraulic damages should be included in the legislation of the forest resources management. Erosion control infrastructure should be included in vulnerable areas and hill slopes, such as headwater basins, should be kept or reforested in order to mitigate the effects of floods.
It is necessary to incorporate an ecosystem vision in the implementation of management policies in the forest resources as well as water resources, incorporating an integrated view at watershed level. A recommendation in this sense, would be to force explicitly the incorporation of environment considerations in the making of forest management plans (in those provinces that establishes in that way), by means of an environment impact assessment. On the other hand, it is necessary to include land use plans concepts and integrated watersheds management in the institutions in charge implementing water policies.
In this direction, in the last years, a participatory process was established amongst water authorities at national and provincial level that finalized into a Federal Agreement based on a set of Main Principles for Water Resources Management for public policy formulation. This process was launched precisely by the Patagonian Provinces and the National Government. The implementation of these policies should strength the capacity of institutions in charge of the watershed management at provincial as well as local governments (municipalities).

Common perceptions on forest and water in Argentina
A) Professional and technical view (in order of importance):


    1. Forest is an important economic resource for timber and non-timber goods, for fuel and amenity (tourism sites).




    1. Forest affects microclimatic conditions (humidity), in large areas can affect regional climatic conditions.




    1. Forest cover reduces water runoff and decrease soil erosion.




    1. Forest canopy intercepts precipitation reducing the water reaching the forest soil. The effect is more important in primary forests (due to ecological complexity) compared to forest plantations and secondary forests.




    1. Deforestation increase peak flow, erosion processes and the risk of landslides at watershed level.




    1. Forests act like “sponges”, increasing the discharge time and regulating the water flow along dry periods.




    1. Forests are an important habitat for biodiversity conservation (wildlife, herbs, and invertebrates).




    1. Riparian forests act as a sediment tramp decreasing sediment and nutrient load in the water and thus maintaining water quality (Obs.: At national level and in some provinces there is a law of riparian forest protection).




    1. Large woody debris increases peak flows especially in relation to beaver ponds largely distributed in many areas of Tierra del Fuego.




    1. Riparian Forests are provider of organic mater (leaf fall), since the net primary production in andean patagonic aquatic environments is minimum.

B) Popular views (in order of importance):


1. Forest provides economic resources (wood, tourism resources).

2. Forest cover prevents natural disasters (floods, landslides).

3. Forests are important for wildlife habitat conservation (especially for birds and other vertebrates).

4. Forests are important because they conserve water quality.


1. Introduction
The aim of the present report is to make a synthetic version of the advances achieved by the Universidad Nacional de La Plata Group in relation to the EPIC FORCE Project. The activities corresponding to the WP7 “Development of improved strategies for water and forest resource management relevant to extreme events at the basin scale”, and to the WP8: “Development of evidence-based policy briefs and recommendations for water and forest resource management”, have been made as a synthesis of different preliminary documents with the aim of analyzing the impact of flood in Argentina, practices and policies in the Tierra del Fuego Province, as well as in the rest of the Patagonian provinces as target area for extrapolation of the results of our EPIC FORCE project in Argentina.
This report is organized in base to the convergence of three aspects which are not traditionally integrated, like forest, water resources management and floods. Due to this, a separate analysis is made in each of the mentioned dimensions as a contribution from the members of the UNLP working team.
2. Main features of Argentina


    1. General features

With almost 2.9 million square kilometers of area, the second largest country of South America extends between 22 and 55 degrees of latitude. The Andean mountains form the western border with Chile with many peaks over 6,000 meters in the middle to north and lower peaks over 2,000 meters in the south. The altitude gradually lowers to the Atlantic Ocean in the southeast or to the La Plata River or its tributaries which form borders with Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.


The Republic of Argentina is a federal country of 23 provinces and the autonomous City of Buenos Aires. Only those matters delegated by provinces are under the national jurisdiction. Because the power to manage natural resources is not delegated to the national government, the management of freshwater resources, including lakes, is primarily the responsibility of provinces. Also forest management is a provincial business with the exception in the western part where several Natural Parks are ruled by the national government.
It should be noted that in Argentina “national” means “pertinent to the nation (composed by the union of the provinces)” while “federal” usually means “trans-provincial” or “interprovincial” with the exception of the “Federal District” (Buenos Aires city).
Patagonia region extends from Colorado River at approximately 40 degrees South to Tierra del Fuego Island at the Southern end of South America is a semi-cold plateau characterized by little precipitation and strong westerlies from the Andes. The climatic and pedological conditions are too harsh for trees to grow and thus results in semi-arid conditions. The southern part of Patagonia is characterized by lakes formed by glaciers.

2.2. Water resources
Argentina can be divided into the following hydrological regions, which belong to the basins of the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean or Closed Basins (Subsecretaría de Recursos Hídricos, Dirección Nacional de Recursos Hídricos; 1995, 2002) (See Fig.1).
Argentina is well endowed with both surface and groundwater water resources (684 km3 /year). However, these resources are unevenly distributed, with about 84 percent (580 km3/year) located in the lower Paraná basin, which represents only 10 percent of its territory. The rest of the country is either arid, with average rainfall of less than 400 mm/year (mid-west and the Patagonia), or semi-arid with a rainfall between 400 and 800mm/year (mid-west and northwest). In the arid zone total runoff is equal to 74 km3/year (Atlantic basin) and only 5.7 km3/year in a large endorreic basin (without outlet to the sea) covering several provinces of the country. The driest regions are the Northwest and Cuyo with only 7.3 km3/year and an availability index of about 1,800 m3/inhab/year.

Fig.1. Basins of Argentina.
Excluding the Paraná basin, agricultural areas of the Pampa Region have an additional flood management issue. It is linked to the effects of local flash-floods and consequent inundation and water logging of agricultural areas under production. In this region there is an impressive land use change from natural pastures into intensive agriculture of staple grains taking place. Adequate management policies for improvement of land management together with agricultural storm drainage and sustainable maintenance of drains and outlets is required.
The Under-Secretariat of Water Resources oversees the National Bureau of Water Policy, which is in charge of planning and executing national water policy, supervising compliance and coordinating plans, programs and projects related to water resources, and the National Bureau of Water Resources Administration, which is essentially responsible for proposing and executing policies, programs and projects related to public water works.
2.3. Forest and National Parks
Because of Argentina's extensive latitudinal and altitudinal ranges, and the resulting climatic variability, the country is characterized by a broad mix of ecological regions. Of the 178 terrestrial ecoregions in Latin America and the Caribbean identified in recent studies, 18 were found in Argentina. They range from the tropical rain forests of Misiones Province to the cold and arid Patagonian steppes of southern Argentina. While most are shared with adjacent countries, several are exclusive to Argentina, including most notably the Espinal, the Monte, the Pampas, and the Savannas (Chaco Serrano). Predictably, this diversity in ecoregions supports a large number of species of flora and fauna.



(a) (b)

Figure 2. Forest and National Parks

(a) Vegetation map (b) National Parks

While the existing system of protected areas is extensive in comparison to other countries in the Latin America region, a recent National Parks Administration (APN) analysis estimated that less than 21 percent of the total area under protection is adequately managed, 30 percent is under some form of management, and almost 50 percent (mostly under the jurisdiction of provincial or municipal authorities) receives very little or no management support.


The National Park Law (Regimen Legal de los Parques Nacionales, Monumentos Naturalesy Reservas Nacionales - Mensaje y Ley Organica) No. 22.351 of 1981, provides the legal basis for establishing and managing protected areas (PAs) in Argentina. This law defines the management objectives and characteristics to be used to classify Pas into one of several conservation classes. Land, water and biological resources designated as national protected areas can be declared on the basis of scientific importance, education, and the enjoyment of present and future generations. Each protected area must be officially designated with its own individual national law.




Figure 3. Phytogeographic units of temperate Argentina.

Redrawn from Cabrera and Wilkins (1973), Paruelo and others (1991),

Soriano (1991), and Paruelo and others (2001)
2.4 Floods and their impact
Flooding is the major natural hazard in Argentina, where the phenomenon poses a major challenge to development. Since 1957, Argentina has had 11 major floods. The floodplains in the country cover over a third of Argentina. That area contains the most developed agricultural and industrial zones in the country, an extensive transportation network and two major hydroelectric dams. Of the 11 major floods in Argentina, three have caused direct damage in excess of US$ 1 billion each: the 1983 flood, US$ 1.5 billion; the 1985 flood, US$ 2 billion; and the 1998 flood, US$ 2.5 billion. According international statistics, Argentina ranks 18th in the world in potential flood losses, in excess of $ 3 billion a year (US$ 3 billion in 1998). Argentina is also one of 14 countries whose potential flood losses are greater than 11,1 percent of GDP. In Latin America, only Ecuador has a higher GDP exposure from flood risk. In pure potential economic loss terms, Argentina has the highest risk in Latin America (Calcagno, Gaviño, & Mendiburo; 2000; WB, 2001)
One fourth of the land of Argentina is said to be prone to flooding. Particularly vulnerable are the areas along the Parana River where flooding occur yearly. The most vulnerable great areas are Northwest region (Mesopotamia and Chaco woodland regions), the Pampa grassland (Salado River, Quinto River, and Encadenadas Lake System, (which are a chain of lakes in a depression in the southwest of Buenos Aires Province), and the Metropolitan Buenos Aires. Other vulnerable areas include Jujuy and Salta Provinces (Upper Bermejo River), Tucumán and Santiago del Estero Provinces (Upper Sali River in Tucumán Province and Dulce River downstream in Santiago del Estero Province-River), Cuyo region or Andean steppes (Mendoza and Desaguadero Rivers - Northern part of the border of Mendoza and San Luis Provinces), Comahue Region (Limay, Neuquén and Negro River).
The country has four principal types of floods:


  1. In the valleys of large rivers (due to high water)

  2. In the Andean foothills (due to rapid snow melt)

  3. Flash floods in urban and rural areas (due to heavy storms); and

  4. Floods in closed plains (due to heavy storms but often associated with deficient drainage, soil management)

The Southern Patagonia region, target area for EPIC FORCE, probably due to its low demographic density and comparatively minor agricultural activities, currently has the fewest water resources management problems, compared with other regions. However, there were a lot of extreme floods with great impact to the people normally living close to flood plains.


As explained in 1.1. due to the federal organization of the country, a current multiplicity of provincial and national laws and institutions does not favor and integrated management of the country's water resources. The key role that the 1994 constitutional reform assigns to the Provinces, as the water authorities in their respective jurisdictions, is not being fully exercised I some provinces. Moreover, no national laws have yet been enacted in the areas of water resources management and environmental protection which are in line with provincial legislation and respect public ownership of water in provincial territories. There is national jurisdiction over navigation, issues of international rivers and inter-jurisdictional commerce. The dominant feature at institutional level is the fragmented management of water resources and their sector handling by numerous national and provincial institutions, with different interests and focuses, which is the source of ongoing interprovincial conflicts. This is the main reason to the establishment of Main Principles for Water Resources Management, trying to promote an integrated water resources management into practice. (Adapted from WB, 2001).
3. Analysis of the institutional and legal framework for forest management in the Andean Patagonia
3.1 Geographical framework
As explained in 1.1, the Andean Patagonia Region develops across the eastern border of the Andes, presenting some ecological and land use uniformity, being subdued to climatic events which generate floods episodes and avalanches with diverse consequences over the natural as well as the social economical environment (See Fig.4).
3.2. The forests and the forest management
The subantarctic forests region in the Argentinean Patagonia have an area of 36.189 Km2, corresponding to the 8% of the native forests of the country. The subantarctic native forests of Patagonia are temperate deciduous forests, with presence of some coniferous forests. The most common genus are Nothofagus sp., Austrocedrus sp. and Araucaria sp. (Cabrera, 1976). The protected areas in the whole country occupy an area of 150.000 Km2 (5,26 % of the national territory), 49.000 Km2 (32,3 %) corresponding to the subantarctic forests.
The forest harvesting is made through management plans which are an instrument for planning, management and control that the provinces apply to orientate the management and the harvest of the native forests as well as of the protected and plantations areas.
As the forest resources belong to the provinces, each one of them establishes their own sectorial policy, including legislation and specific application agencies. All of the Argentinean provinces are adhered to a National Law Nº 13.273 of “Defense of the forest wealth” and its reglamentary Decree Nº 710/95. The Secretary of Environment and Sustainable Development (Secretaria de Ambiente y Desarrrollo Sustentable) is the responsible agency for the management of the native forests in federal areas, while the Administration of National Parks (Administración de Parques Nacionales) is in charge of the protected areas belonging to the federal government which are ruled by the National Law Nº 22.351 of Protected Areas. Complementary, there are other Natural and Protected areas which are ruled and managed by each provinces under provincial laws, like Law N 272 of Tierra del Fuego. Nowadays the political, legal and regulatory frame shows a lot of weaknesses, which must be superseded as a first step in any strategy aimed to improve the management of the native forests in Argentina. The Argentinean government’s policy is to promote plantations enterprises in order to generate productive, economic, social and commercial development, through the National Law Nº 25.080 of “Investments for Cultivated Forests”. The application agency is the Forest Direction (Dirección de Forestación) of the Secretary of Agriculture, Cattle, Fishing and Food (Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Pesca y Alimentos).
At present, forest resource is over exploited, being the “forest possibility” half the actual cut rate. Furthermore there is no study over the relationship between the forest harvest strategy and hydrological problems such as floods, erosion and landslides.



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