Alarming study: Argentina lost 7.6 million hectares of vegetation in the last 25 years

Argentina lost in the last 25 years 7.6 million hectares of natural vegetation -which includes both trees, shrubs and grasslands-, mainly in the northern argentina. As revealed by one of the maps annual coverage and land use generated by MapBiomas Argentinathe greatest losses were concentrated in the provinces of Santiago del Estero, Salta and Chaco.

In Argentina, the natural vegetation covers 70% of the territory and the most significant losses of woody vegetation (trees and shrubs) occurred in the north of the country, especially in Santiago del Estero (2.1 million hectares), Jump (1.5 million hectares) and Chaco (870,000 hectares).

Read also: The Chaco legislature modified the protected forest areas and 1 million hectares could be cleared

From the analysis of the map it appears that human land usesuch as agriculture, livestock and forestry plantations, occupies 55.5 million hectares, twice the area of ​​the province of Buenos Aires. Likewise, between 1998 and 2022, the agricultural area increased by 5.2 million hectares, while pastures 1.4 million grew.

Annual map of land cover and use in the period 1998-2022 generated by MapBiomas Argentina. (Photo: MapBiomas)

The million-dollar loss of vegetation, region by region

  • In the Northwest region (NOA) – The most significant change was the decrease in the closed woody class in Santiago del Estero (2.1 Mha). Since 1998, about 10% of the region’s natural vegetation (3.6 Mha) has been lost. Meanwhile, the surface area of ​​the agricultural area increased by 16% (7.5 Mha).
  • Northeast (NEA): Formosa led the increase in agricultural land, especially in pastures. Missions saw a 50% growth in its forest plantations, with 100,000 hectares in terms of loss. For its part, Chaco lost 15% of its woody vegetation, while Currents lost 8% of its pastures, equivalent to 281,000 hectares.
  • Center: The provinces of Buenos Aires, La Pampa, Córdoba, Santa Fe and Entre Ríos They have half of their surface dedicated to agricultural activity since the beginning of the period analyzed (39 million hectares). This region suffered half of the grassland loss of the country, with 300 thousand hectares. It also lost 17% of its water surfaceequivalent to 266 thousand hectares.
  • Whose: In Mendoza, San Luis, San Juan and La Rioja, the agricultural area in irrigated valleys grew by 28%, totaling 500 thousand hectares. La Rioja increased its forest plantations by 19 thousand hectares, while San Luis saw its agricultural area grow by 136 thousand hectares.
  • Patagonia: This region, which includes Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut, Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego, remains largely covered by natural vegetation and bare areas (80.5 million hectares). However, it lost 66,000 hectares of ice and snow (8.2% of the region). In addition, Lake Colhue Huapi was affected and the loss of Patagonian forests was recorded.

The loss of vegetation is growing in Argentina. (Photo: ElDoce.tv)

Regarding the usefulness of the maps prepared by MapBiomas Argentina, The platform offers an unprecedented vision of the Argentine territory in a context of climate vulnerability linked to droughts and floods in different regions of the country. It gathers information on land cover and use in the country, surveying areas of natural woody vegetation, bodies of water, grasslands, steppes, forests, and areas of agriculture and pasture, among others.

The initiative is a collaboration of experts in remote sensing and natural resources of research institutes and civil society organizations that, through the satellite image processinggenerated this first collection of 25 annual maps with 15 land cover and use classes.

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