The Project to Develop Sustainable Production in the Gran Chaco Moves Forward: Conservation of Natural Areas and Lower Carbon Footprint
155,000 ha. are part of the project led by Fundación ProYungas, Asociación Argentina de Productores en Siembra Directa (Aapresid) and Fundación Moisés Bertoni in Paraguay.
Argentina is the third-largest soybean producer in the world, with an estimated area of 16.3 million hectares for the 22/23 season. In the Gran Chaco area, this production coexists with natural landscapes, a key element in carbon sequestration.
In this context, the Land Innovation Fund (LIF) supports, through the finance program for innovation projects in South America, an initiative led by Fundación ProYungas, the Asociación Argentina de Productores de Siembra Directa (Aapresid) and the Fundación Moisés Bertoni in Paraguay.
This initiative aims to foster a sustainable soybean supply chain, free of deforestation and conversion of native vegetation in three priority biomes in South America: Cerrado, Gran Chaco and the Amazon rainforest.
"When the productive sector talked about sustainable production, it was thought of as a concept separate from the conservation of nature," analyzed Sebastián Malizia, Executive Director of ProYungas. What is interesting about this project is that it integrates the productive space with the wilderness to ensure the production of sustainable goods and services, conserving the latter with the help of the producers themselves. They are the most important elements of the production and care of wild spaces.
Supporting 28 projects in South America, the Land Innovation Fund foster the design, development and implementation of innovative solutions that combine sustainable agricultural practices with environmental conservation and restoration. “The initiative of Fundación ProYungas, in partnership with Aapresid and Fundación Moisés Bertoni, reinforces the importance of encouraging responsible management of agricultural areas, contributing to carbon balance, climate change mitigation and new business opportunities, in synergy with the growing international demand for sustainable agricultural production and free of deforestation," says Carlos E. Quintela, Director of the Fund.
A Project that Meets Global Market Requirements
This project is based on the vast experience of Sistema Chacras Program of Aapresid and the program Paisaje Productivo Protegido (PPP) of Fundación ProYungas. They promote the adoption of good practices of agriculture for the conservation and restoration of the fields of Gran Chaco, as well as the protection of forests and natural grasslands, in response to the opportunities of an increasingly demanding international trade in terms of sustainable agricultural production, free of deforestation and contributing to mitigate climate change.
The project consists of 3 selected pilot sites in Argentina and 2 in Paraguay covering 155,000 ha and 12 producers. The project includes estimating the carbon footprint of production activities, measuring the carbon stock in production and in wild areas, and monitoring biodiversity at each of the sites.
The First Actions of the Project
Already in its first stage, the project aims to know the baseline situation of each system. "To achieve this, we are doing soil sampling to measure initial carbon stock, estimate current emissions and captures of both productive areas and wild spaces. Based on this, we compare and calculate the carbon balance of each site," explains Andrés Madías, leader of Sistema Chacras Program of Aapresid. "This will allow us to propose actions in each situation aimed at reducing the generated carbon footprint, thinking in the long term in a project of 'carbon credits' that will eventually be marketable."
Another ongoing indicator is the forest inventory, which consists of collecting data on trees in natural areas. This will make it possible to assess the state of the forests and their carbon stock.
They are also working on biodiversity monitoring with camera traps that detect the presence and diversity of mammals to analyze their relationship with carbon sequestration in these environments. "At the beginning of the year, 18 camera traps were installed in the sites in Argentina," explained a member of ProYungas.
Key Information about Future Food Production and the Fight against Climate Change
The project involves the conservation of forests, natural grasslands, wetlands, and several corridors. "When we talk about conservation, we are not only talking about avoiding the transformation of theses spaces into agricultural lands, but also preserving them from degradation such as fires, excessive logging or overgrazing," explained a member of ProYungas. "It means maintaining the natural vegetation and taking care of production by making efforts - from producers, companies and organizations - to ensure that these areas have the necessary quality to guarantee biodiversity and the production of goods and services," Sebastián emphasizes.
The ability to produce more with a smaller environmental footprint definitely requires a holistic approach where the design of productive systems is based on all aspects of sustainability, promoting biodiversity and generating resilience to climate change and other challenges.
The main goal of the project is that producers begin to see the opportunities of conservation and contribute to it in their own ecosystems. This implies managing continuous improvement practices in productive areas and protection practices in natural areas.
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