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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Fig. 4. Ecoregions of Patagonia

3.3. Objectives and Scopes
The objective of this chapter is to analyze the institutional organization and the normative frame for the management of the subantartic forests in relationship with forest practices and water resources management. The scopes of the analysis are the following:

  • The forest areas in the Andean Patagonia region

  • Institutional organization and normative frame for the management of forests.

  • The forest management practices.

  • The challenges of management in extreme events.

3.4. Legal and institutional framework
Tierra del Fuego
The Constitution of the Province establishes the principles for natural resources management and protection based on ecosystem approach (Article 54) and the ownership of natural resources to the Provincial State (Article 81). Complementary, the Forest Law Nº 145 creates the Forest Office, under the dependence of the Natural Resources Secretary, giving the power for the implementation into practice by which the forest activity is ruled demanding the approval of a management plan in order to start the activities. The Decree 852/95 and other legal directives are execution tools for the implementation of the law and identifies fragile areas that must be conserved such as steep slopes, streamside and route sides. In the year 1995 the Law Nº 145 was modified in some of its articles by the Law Nº 202 by which logs and chips exportation was forbidden. Besides, there exists in the province an Environmental Law Nº 55 and Decree Nº 1333/93 with the objective of preservation, conservation, defense and improvement of the environment, acting under the Natural Resources secretary too. Particularly, Decree Nº 1341/96 ask an EIA for forest projects larger than 500 ha. annually.
Santa Cruz
The main law that rules the forest activity in the province is the Nº 65, by which the province adheres to the National Law Nº 13.273. The “Forests, Parks and Soil Conservation Direction (Dirección de Bosques, Parques y Conservación de Suelos)” is created by this law as a dependency of the Agrarian Provincial Council (Consejo Agrario Provincial), which is in charge of the integral fulfilment of the law”.
The chapter V of the Provincial Constitution is referred to natural resources, whose article 105 anticipates that “the native forests belong to the Province. Its harvest, defence, improvement and extension are ruled by the laws dictated by the Provincial public powers”. In the year 1959 the Law Nº 124 was sanctioned by which the province adheres to the National Law Nº 13.273, this law exempts native forests and reforested forest lands, considered as protection forests, for the payment of the real estate tax. Nowadays the General Direction of Forests and Parks (Dirección General de Bosques y Parques) dependent of the Sub Secretary of Natural Resources and Environment (Subsecretaría de Recursos Naturales y Medio Ambiente) of the Productive Ministry (Ministerio de Producción) of the province, is the agency in charge of the administration and control of the forestry activity, being under its responsibility the care and development of this resource. The Decree 1956/91 establishes the regulatory normative of forest harvests in native forests. It demand a management plan (MP) as a complement for the cut permission, not as an indispensable requirement to grant it. The forest legislation of the province has not had medium nor long term prevision, nor has been explicitly based on nor applied forest planning (“Ordenación”) principles.
Río Negro
The section V of the provincial constitution refers to the natural resources. The province has its ownership and management policy, with specific practices established for each one of them. The state promotes the “rational harvest of the forests, protecting the survival, conservation, improvement of species and replacement of those of most interest by means of forestation and reforestation. To achieve these objectives, it exerts its power of policy”. With the forest Law Nº 757 the province adheres to the National Law Nº 13.273. It establishes mechanisms to prevent erosion after de forest cuts, assuring the management of watersheds and the prevention of the erosion and avalanches in treated areas. In this case the opinion of the Water Provincial Department (Departamento Provincial de Aguas) will be required. It creates the Andean Forest Service (Servicio Forestal Andino), located in the city of El Bolsón, being in charge of the control of the fulfilment of the Forest Law.
The Law Nº 65/59 adheres to the National Law 13.273 of “Defence of the Forest Wealth”, and in only four articles it states to do everything necessary for the exercise of the rights and fulfilment of the duties emerging from the National Law. In 1991 the Laws 1.890, 1.891, 1.892 were dictated, laws that also declare the optimum use, the defence, improvement, enrichment, extension and harvest of the forest wealth, promoting the plantations and forest industry.
3.5. General considerations
According to Di Pace (1992) the management of the native forests in Argentina are not coincident with forest management plans, because do not consider the sustainable rent of the resource, the dimensions and characteristics of the derived industry and the sound forest harvesting system. In forty years of the formal application of the Law Nº 13.273, the control has not achieved to stop the alarming degradation of the forest ecosystems in cerain provinces, between other reasons because there is no forest of significant area, public o private, including the ones placed in the national parks free of domestic cattle or herbivorous fauna introduced, which browses and grazes freely. In general sense, there is a lack of regional land use plans incorporated to the organisms responsible of the management of the resources, having character of a state policy, with a long term vision were the forest activity could be inserted.
In the Province of Tierra del Fuego the environment law contemplates regional land use plans and practically all areas have their own plan (Personal communication of Ms. Adriana Urciuolo), however not all of them are fully applied or monitored. The forest activity needs a management plan but until now, there are not officially approved any plan. However, the forest inventory gave good information about the level of harvest activity and for the establishing an emergency situation in 2004. Since then, there was implemented a reduction of the rate of harvesting in government forest areas (75% of the total in province of Tierra del Fuego) in order to reach in long term sustainable forest management. In two years this rate was reduced around 50% in relation with the original. On the other hand, taxes were updated and recently their amount was defined depending on the quality of the wood. As part of the recent policies too, a reclassification of producers was done, establishing a maximum volume of extraction per year and differential prices for quality and dimension of the logs. The main problem for forest management remains the lack of institutional capacity, moreover in recent years a growing concern and control is being implemented (Personal Communication of Mr. L.Collado).
In the Province of Santa Cruz the only forest law is a copy of the National Law Nº13.273, it does not contemplate the making of forest management plans, and on the contrary it has an article that promotes the deforestation. The fiscal roll of the government is practically null.
In the Province of Chubut there is a diversity of objectives in the decrees that rule the forest management, pretending to deal simultaneously with forest harvesting in native forests and in plantations, the forest load slip system, the production of seedlings, the use of equipment of primary transformation and penalties. As a result they lack of forcefulness and precision in the topics involved.
In the Rio Negro Province the law does not contemplate the causes of the degradation or the limitations of the development. Native forests, plantations, Andean forest zone, public forests, private forests, are all included in the same law without different criteria. This also happens in other norms such as the law Nº 3.060/96 of fiscal stability for the forest harvesting in native forests and plantations.
In the province of Neuquén the government is not strong enough for fiscal control of the activities that promotes and subsidize. In this sense the state agencies at the national and provincial level placed in the city of Neuquén, such as the Capacitating and Employment Regency (Gerencia de Capacitación y Empleo) and the Forest Direction (Dirección de Bosques) of the province do not keep record of the data and the information. This cause difficulty in knowing the local reality, for planning and making of decisions about the right use of government investments. This is why it is necessary to incorporate new instruments to control such decisions. In this sense, the generation of information systems for the local development by the intensive use of it, is vital. There is a lack of information and difficulties for the fluent circulation of the information among actors (Martínez, 2002).
3.6. Management difficulties
There is an alarming lack of control by the government, allowing degradation in the forest ecosystems. The forest wealth Law and the provincial laws of adherence did not result efficient at the moment of avoiding degradation nor development. The native forests degradation is caused by over exploitation for firewood, frequent forest fires, selective exploitation and cattle grazing. The weaknesses found are: a) management (inadequate use of the forests); b) social aspects (native communities point out the conflicts caused by the lack of ownership of the land); and c) economic aspects (lack of valorisation and certification of products and forest services) d) growing weakness of the provincial institutional capacity due to wrong policies during decades.
3.7. Guidelines for forest management in relation with water resources
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.
3.8. Literature cited in section 3
Carabelli, F. 2002. Una contribución a la planificación del uso múltiple de las áreas boscosas de Tierra del Fuego. Publicación Técnica 31 CIEFAP 114pp
Di Pace, M. 1992. Las Utopías del Medio Ambiente. Desarrollo Sustentable en la Argentina. Bibliotecas Universitarias. Centro Editor de América Latina. Bs.As. 42pp.
Cabrera, A.L. 1976. Regiones fitogeográficas argentinas.Página de Buenos Aires. Acme. 85 p.
Martínez, M.N. 2002. La actividad forestal: una alternativa en la generación de empleo en la provincia del Neuquén. Argentina Revista Electrónica de Geografía y Ciencias Sociales Universidad de Barcelona. ISSN: 1138-9788. Vol. VI, núm. 119 (114), http://www.ub.es/geocrit/sn/sn119114.htm
4. Analysis of the institutional organization and normative frame for the management of the water resources in the Andean Patagonic Region
4.1. Normative and institutions in charge of the management of the water resources
In Argentina exist, at a National level, a series of legal norms which establish the management and use of the natural and water resources. The National Constitution establishes the ownership of water resources to the provinces and of course the main responsibility for their management. Amongst the more relevant the National Decree Nº 1142/2003, it establishes the institutional structure of the Public Infrastructure Secretary (Secretaría de Obras Públicas) and the Nation Sub Secretary of Water Resources (Subsecretaría de Recursos Hídricos de la Nación). Its aim is to formulate and execute the national water resources policy and propose the regulatory frame in relation to the management of the water resources, tying and coordinating the action of the other jurisdictions and water agencies participating in the water policy. Besides it should formulate and execute programs and actions tied to the management of the water resources internationally shared, its basins, successive and contiguous streams and interprovincial water regions and water bodies in general, representing the National State in coordination with the agencies and jurisdictions involved. Formulates and executes programs and actions of the management and development of infrastructure. It executes the national policy for public services and water supply, evaluation and basic sanitary services. It supervises the Regulatory Agency of the Security of the Dams (Órgano Regulador de Seguridad de Presas), the Join Institution for infrastructure and sanitary services (Ente Tripartito de Obras y Servicios Sanitarios) and the National Institution for Hidraulic Infrastructure for Sanitation (Ente Nacional de Obras Hídricas de Saneamiento). It supervises the work of the Nacional Institute of Water (Instituto Nacional del Agua). I has to control the functioning of Watershed Comities (AIC, COIRCO, COREBE, ETC.). It has to intervene in the activities of the Water Infrastructure Founds (Fideicomiso33). It makes agreements with provincial government and other institution for the development of Water Public Works and Sanitary Programs, productive land restoration, flooding control and infrastructure protection in rural in rural and suburban areas and assess or execute emergency public infrastructure for the provinces financed by funding coming from Water infrastructure 1.
The Nation Sub Secretary of Water Resources (Subsecretaría de Recursos Hídricos de la Nación) is divided in three directions:

  • The National Direction of conservation and protection of the water resources (Dirección Nacional de Conservación y Protección de los Recursos Hídricos),

  • The National Direction of Projects and Water infrastructure (Dirección Nacional de Proyectos y Obras Hídricos),

  • The National Direction of Water Planning and Federal Coordination (Dirección Nacional de Planificación Hídrica y Coordinación Federal)

The National Decree Nº 1381/01 determines the establishment of a Water Infrastructure Tax in the whole national territory, especially for the development of Water infrastructure for the recovery of productive lands, mitigation of floods in rural areas protection of road and rail infrastructure. This tax is applied to the fossil fuels bought in the country or imported, and consists of a total of five cents of Argentinean pesos ($0.05) over the selling price. According to the decree, this extra budget fund for the national budget is administered by the Water Infrastructure Fund, organism created “Ad Hoc”.

4.2. National water policies
As a noticeable part of the water policies, the National Government launched the Federal Plan of Food Control, financed by the National Treasure giving the Nation Sub Secretary of Water Resources a budgetary credit, considering as a priority to reinitiate and built the planned works.
On the other hand, the National Decree Nº 1381 (November, 1st of 2001), established in all the National Territory the Water Infrastructure Tax in order to promote the development of the infrastructure projects of water infrastructure. Its aim is the recovery of productive land, mitigation of floods in rural areas and protection of road and rail infrastructure, starting in areas which are in flood emergency.
According to the faculties conferred to the named decree, the National Secretary of Public Infrastructure (Secretaría de Obras Públicas de la Nación), together with the Sub Secretary of Water Resources (Subsecretaría de Recursos Hídricos) have signed agreements with the Provinces of Buenos Aires, La Pampa, Córdoba, Santa Fe, Mendoza, Chubut and Formosa in order to permit the execution of required constructions, and the starting of new emergency constructions, both by means of the resources coming from Water Infrastructure Rate. 34

    1. The Federal Water Council (COHIFE)

The Federal Government and the Provinces are moving towards a new framework for water resources management. In an agreement signed in 2003 (Acuerdo Federal de Agua) was created the Federal Water Council (Consejo Hídrico Federal - COHIFE) which groups national and provincial representatives involved in Water Resources Management (WRM), moving away from sectorial to integrated management of water resources”

The COHIFE was created in order to improve inter-jurisdictional coordination and cooperation in a country where water belongs to the Provinces and where the Federal Government has practically no venue of intervention. Challenges for efficient basin management, include institutional arrangements (inter-jurisdictional conflicts), river basin degradation, flood management and protection, improving irrigation, environmental sanitation, capacity building and environmental education.
The Acuerdo Federal has been signed by the provinces and the national government. The two key innovations of the Acuerdo are moves towards (a) more decentralized basin-wide IWRM, including greater provincial control over available investment funds, and (b) more inter-sectoral analysis and management of WRM issues. This positive development will help the Government to develop a more comprehensive strategy. The new integrated approach to water resources management will be introduced, and future investments in the water sector will be prepared under the newer model of planning and financing. Further investments at the provincial and inter-provincial level will need to be done in a manner consistent with the IWRM framework.
As a new tool to solve inter-jurisdictional conflicts, in May 2006 was approved a new by-law based on friendship between riverine provinces.
COHIFE is organized following the regions of Argentina. In particular the first Water Regional Council was organized in 2002 in Patagonia (Patagonian Regional Council or Consejo Hídrico Patagónico - COHIPA). COHIFE was organized taking as example COHIPA and further extended to the whole country. The Province of Tierra del Fuego is an active member of both, federal and regional water councils.

    1. Water organization in the provinces

The province of Neuquén has a water code as a more specific normative related to the management of the water resources. It establishes that the Provincial Direction of Water Resources (Dirección Provincial de Recursos Hídricos) manages and controls the use of such resources. On the other hand, the General Direction of Environment and Sustainable Development (Dirección General de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sustentable) is the one which establishes the provincial integral development of policies. There is also an Environment Provincial Council (Consejo Provincial de Medio Ambiente) that functions as a consultative and technical assessor agency formed by members of the provincial government and NGO’s.

In the province of Rio Negro, the Provincial Water Direction (Dirección Provincial de Aguas) applies the water code of the province, being in charge of administering and controlling the management of the water resources. On the other hand, the Provincial Law Nº 2581 creates the Rio Negro Green Cross, whose objective is to promote the development of the institutions dedicated to the environmental management and to incorporate environmental aspects to the development activities, being a participation and active agreement instrument of the agencies, governmental, non governmental, municipalities, productive and commerce agencies taking as objective the environment conservation, promotion of sustainable management, adoption of social and environment appropriate technology, defense of the environment, the respect for all forms of life and the revalorization of the individual in an integrated view of the human being and its environment. With this purpose, the Rio Negro Green Cross belongs to the Ecology and Environment Provincial Council (Consejo Provincial de Ecología y Medio Ambiente) with a program for the establishment of an environmental geographic information system for the management of the environment and planning of the development.35
The province of Chubut has a Water Code applied by the General Direction of Administration of the Water Resources (Dirección General de Administración de los Recursos Hídricos). Its duty is to organize everything concerning to the use of the water resources in the province. It must take part in all the activities and constructions made in relation to the study, use, conservation, management, protection and control of its injurious effects. On the other hand, Chubut has an Environment General Law, where everything related to the use, management and control of the natural resources is established; it does not have an implementation authority “ad hoc” being the ones who implement the law “every provincial and municipal agency with duties on the environment”. The Provincial Environment Council (Consejo Provincial del Ambiente) exists as coordination and articulation agency of environmental policies.
In the province of Santa Cruz the Law Nº 1451 is in charge of the management of the water resources. The Provincial Direction of Water Resources, (Dirección Provincial de Recursos Hídricos) Agrarian Affairs Ministry (Ministerio de Asuntos Agrarios) is in charge of the law implementation. Its aim is to regulate the management and control of the provincial water and its mission is to propose the provincial water policies. On the other hand, laws related to different aspects involving the natural resources, are implemented by different Directions of the Agrarian Affairs Ministry.
In the province of Tierra del Fuego, Antártida e Islas del Atlántico Sur there is no a water resources law. Water resources are managed by the Water Resources Direction (Dirección de Recursos Hídricos) depending of the Natural Resources Secretary and is in charge of water assessment, planning, management and control. The Province organized an inventory and classification of water resources into basins and a databank with metadata
4.4. Watershed Agencies
In the Patagonian Region, there are some autarkic agencies in charge of the regulation of watersheds:

  • The Azul River Watershed Authority (Autoridad de Cuenca del Río Azul)

  • The Senguer Watershed Committee (Comité de Cuenca del Río Senguer)

  • The Interjurisdictional Authority of the Limay, Neuquén and Negro Rivers (Autoridad Interjurisdiccional de las Cuencas de los Ríos Limay, Neuquén y Negro)

  • The Colorado River Interjurisdictional Committee (Comité Interjurisdiccional del Río Colorado)

All of them, have in general terms, the commitment and responsibility of carrying out an integrated management of the watersheds, reaching an equilibrium between the decisions coming from the different governmental institutions with jurisdiction over each one of them.

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