Implications of the Soybean Industry and Agriculture on Forests in Argentina
A Summary of Soybean Agriculture in Argentina
Combinations of climatic and land use changes have the potential to produce the most dramatic impacts on land cover. Within the borders of Argentina deforestation has continued to change and disturb the landscape as part of agricultural expansion in the country, particularly for soybean cultivation (Diaz et al., 2008). Soybean agriculture is a large, growing industry in Argentina that provides a substantial amount of income to the country (WWF Global, 2011). This industry was first promoted in the 1960’s when an increase in rainfall occurred and more favourable land conditions arose (Walter, 2009). Due to the economic success of soybean agriculture in Argentina, the sustainability of the environment has been restricted because deforestation has become a major practice to increase the production of this valuable crop (Walter, 2009). Formerly being named the most extensive seasonally dry forest in the continent, the Chaco forest is now a victim to the soybean expansion (Walter, 2009). Disturbance to the country’s environment is creating a great danger to many of the species located within the forest because their habitats are being removed and ecological conditions are changing (Grau & Ignacio, 2009).
There are underlying forces that effect the rate deforestation; these include agricultural expansion, population density and the global demand for soybeans as well as other direct or indirect factors (Diaz et al., 2008). As if these issues are not enough to handle the biofuel industry has also contributed negatively to the preservation on the Argentinean environment (Walter, 2009). Sustainability practices are needed to carefully plan the regeneration of the environment after the harm deforestation has accomplished. If barriers are not put in place Argentina may lose both animal and plant species as well as the quality their land previously held (Walter, 2009). The aim of the paper is to explore the forest degradation and socio-ecological factors influenced by Argentinean agriculture projects, and find solutions for future sustainable growth to manage these impacts. Components encouraging Soybean Industry
As mentioned in the previous paragraph there are direct and indirect factors that have encouraged land changes and deforestation (Diaz et al., 2008). The main and most direct cause leading to these issues has been caused by agricultural expansion, namely for soybean cultivation. Argentina, located in the southeastern part of South America (Fig.1, pg 7), provides 81% of the world’s exported soybean oil and 36% of soybean meal (Walter, 2009). Since production is in such high demand and there is sufficient technology, the soybean industry chooses to create more land to increase their margins and therefore increase their income (Diaz et al., 2008). There are two factors that promote soybean expansion, which ultimately leads to increased deforestation. These factors are; higher demand for food to feed animals and people, and a more recent development in the agro-fuel industry. Laws being implemented, such as the biofuel law, comply that people can only have a certain percentage of biofuel in their vehicles. This has put a negative pressure on Argentina and its environment to meet the demands of the international market by using irrational means and unsustainable practices such as deforestation (Walter, 2009). As shown in figure 4 on pg 9; hectares of land used for soybean plantations have gone from just over six million in 1998 to over 16 million in 2008 (Walter, 2009).
Socioeconomic, Technological and Biophysical factors of Soybean Deforestation The building of the agribusiness in Argentina has affected not only the architecture of the land but also socioeconomic factors. With the expansion of the soybean human population density, cost of land, land per person, and the soybean markets have...
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Diaz, S., Caceres, D., Cabido, M. and Zak, M. 2008. What Drives Accelerated Land Cover Change in Central Argentina? Synergistic Consequences of Climatic, Socioeconomic, and Technological Factors. Journal of Evironmental Management. 42: 181-189.
Grau, R., Ignacio, G. 2009. Deforestation and Fragmentation of Chaco dry Forest in NW Argentina (1972-2007). Journal of Forest Ecology and Management. 258: 913-921.
National Geographic. (updated 2011) ‘Argentina’ in National Geographic Travel. (accessed November 1, 2011).
Walter, P., 2009. Agrofuels and Agrifoods: Counting the Externalities at the Major Crossroads of the 21st Century. Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society. 29: 167-169.
World Statistics. (updated 2011) ‘World Soybean Production 2010’ in World Statistics. (accessed on November 1, 2011).
WWF Global. (updated 2011) ‘WWF- Argentina: Our Solutions’ in World Wildlife Foundation. < http://wwf.panda.org/who_we_are/wwf_offices/argentina/wwf_argentina_conservation/> (accessed on October 1, 2011).
Figure 1: A map of the southern part of South America, showing the location of Argentina (National Geographic, 2011).
Figure 2: A pie chart showing that Argentina is the third largest soybean producer in the world (World Statistics: page30, 2011).
Figure 3: A graph showing the increase in production of soybean in Argentina from 1986 to 2010 (World Statistics: page 31, 2011).
Figure 4: A graph showing the increase in land use for soybean production in Argentina between 1996 and 2008. The x-axis represents the years and the y-axis represents the hectares of land x 1000 (Walter, 2009).
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