Differences in production, carbon stocks and biodiversity outcomes of land tenure regimes in the Argentine Dry Chaco


Rising global demand for agricultural products results in agricultural expansion and intensification, with substantial environmental trade-offs. The South American Dry Chaco contains some of the fastest expanding agricultural frontiers worldwide, and includes diverse forms of land management, mainly associated with different land tenure regimes; which in turn are segregated along environmental gradients (mostly rainfall). Yet, how these regimes impact the environment and how trade-offs between production and environmental outcomes varies remains poorly understood. Here, we assessed how biodiversity, biomass stocks, and agricultural production, measured in meat-equivalents, differ among land tenure regimes in the Dry Chaco. We calculated a land-use outcome index (LUO) that combines indices comparing actual vs. potential values of ‘preservation of biodiversity’ (PI), ‘standing biomass’ (BI) and ‘meat production’ (MI). We found land-use outcomes to vary substantially among land-tenure regimes. Protected areas showed a biodiversity index of 0.75, similar to that of large and medium-sized farms (0.72 in both farming systems), and higher than in the other tenure regimes. Biomass index was similar among land tenure regimes, whereas we found the highest median meat production index on indigenous lands (MI = 0.35). Land-use outcomes, however, varied more across different environmental conditions than across land tenure regimes. Our results suggest that in the Argentine Dry Chaco, there is no single land tenure regime that better minimizes the trade-offs between production and environmental outcomes. A useful approach to manage these trade-offs would be to develop geographically explicit guidelines for land-use zoning, identifying the land tenure regimes more appropriate for each zone.

Environmental Research Letters, 12(4) 045003
Sofía Marinaro
Postdoctoral Researcher
Tobias Kuemmerle
Tobias Kuemmerle
Professor & Head of the Conservation Biogeography Lab