Two of a kind? Large-scale land acquisitions and commodity frontier expansion in Argentina?s Dry Chaco
MAGLIOCCA, N.R.; DE BREMOND, A.; ELLICOTT, E.; SEGHEZZO, L.; VENENCIA, C.D.; MOSCIARO, M.J.
ECOLOGY AND SOCIETY
Lugar: Wolfville; Año: 2022
Land-use change (LUC) driven by commodity agriculture over the last 20 years has been particularly extensive in the Dry Chaco region of Argentina, which surpassed the Amazon during that time to become one of the top three global deforestation hotspots. Large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) have been cited as a key catalyst of deforestation and related LUC in commodity frontier expansion. However, it is unclear whether contemporary LSLAs that affected the Dry Chaco and other agricultural commodity frontiers globally differed in their mechanisms of LUC from conventional agricultural expansion processes. The diversity of domestic and foreign investors, commodity crops, and LUC dynamics observable in contemporary LSLAs in Argentina´s Dry Chaco provide a focused lens, or "case set," through which to consider commodity frontier dynamics in the Salta Province since 2000. We integrated remote sensing analysis and classification of the timing and location of LUC within the boundaries of LSLA and non-LSLA agricultural parcels with survival analysis to draw conclusions about the dynamics of LSLA establishment (i.e., purchase/transfer of ownership/ title change) and LUC associated with production operations. Regionally, spatio-temporal patterns of agricultural expansion into increasingly marginal land were consistent between LSLA and non-LSLA parcels. However, parcel-based analysis revealed differing responsiveness to commodity prices and land-use constraints imposed by the National Forest Law, which translated into diverging LUC trajectories among LSLA and non-LSLA parcels. In particular, LUC on LSLA parcels was significantly slowed by Forest Law constraints, but continued on non-LSLA parcels and a small number of "recategorized" and/or illegally deforested LSLA parcels. Our findings demonstrate the importance of moving beyond large-scale, aggregate spatial assessments of LSLA outcomes that aim to inform policy yet ´black box" actors. Actor heterogeneity must be explicitly accounted for as part of the causal mechanisms that influence land acquisition and lead to differing LUC trajectories.