Drivers of agricultural land - use change in the Argentine Pampas and Chaco regions

Piquer Rodriguez, María; Butsic, V.; Gartner, P.; Macchi, Leandro; Baumann, Matthias; Gavier Pizarro, Gregorio Ignacio; Volante, Jose Norberto; Gasparri, Néstor Ignacio; Kuemmerle, Tobias
Publication Year
Published version
Agricultural expansion and intensification in South America's dry forests and grasslands increase agricultural production, but also result in major environmental trade-offs. The Pampas and Chaco regions of Argentina have been global hotspots of agricultural land-use change since the 2000s, yet our understanding of what drives the spatial patterns of these land-use changes remains partial. We parameterized a net returns model of agricultural land-use change to estimate the probability of agricultural expansion (conversions of woodlands to either cropland or grazing land) and agricultural intensification (conversion of grazing land to cropland) at the 1-km scale for the years 2000 and 2010. Uniquely, our model allowed us to quantify the importance of underlying causes (i.e., changes in agricultural profit) and spatial determinants (i.e., soil fertility, distance to markets, etc.), for Argentina's prime agricultural regions as a whole. We found that cropland and grazing land expansion into woodlands was much less sensitive to changes in profit-related factors than agricultural intensification. Profit-related variables, were a particularly strong cause of intensification in the Pampas, where cropland profits rose by 29% (compared to 18% in the Chaco). This suggests that further conversions of grazing land to cropland in the Pampas and Chaco is likely as long as agricultural demand, and thus returns to agriculture, continue to be high. The moderate impact of profit-related factors on affecting woodland conversion rates also suggests a limited potential of economic policies that affect marginal profits (e.g., taxes or subsidies) to alter deforestation rates and patterns in major ways. Policies that target socio-economic variables not included in our profit-focused framework (e.g., capital availability), area-based interventions (e.g., land zoning), or less-profit oriented actors (e.g., via community-based management) might be more effective in addressing deforestation rates in the Chaco.
Inst. de Recursos Biológicos
Fil: Piquer Rodriguez, María. Humboldt-University Berlin. Geography Department; Alemania
Fil: Butsic, V. University of California Berkeley. Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management; Estados Unidos
Fil: Gartner, P. Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research; Alemania
Fil: Macchi, Leandro. Humboldt-University Berlin. Geography Department; Alemania
Fil: Baumann, Matthias. Humboldt-University Berlin. Geography Department; Alemania
Fil: Gavier Pizarro, Gregorio Ignacio. INTA. Instituto de Recursos Biológicos; Argentina
Fil: Volante, Jose Norberto. INTA. Estación Experimental Agropecuaria Salta; Argentina
Fil: Gasparri, Nestor Ignacio. Universidad Nacional de Tucumán. Facultad de Ciencias Naturales e Instituto Miguel Lillo. Instituto de Ecología Regional; Argentina. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Centro Científico Tecnológico Tucumán; Argentina. Humboldt-University Berlin. Integrative Research Institute for Transformations in Human Environment Systems; Alemania
Fil: Kuemmerle, Tobias. Humboldt-University Berlin. Geography Department; Alemania. Humboldt-University Berlin. Integrative Research Institute for Transformations in Human Environment Systems; Alemania
Applied geography 91 : 111-122. (February 2018)
Utilización de la Tierra
Land Use
Región Pampeana
Región Chaqueña
Access level
Restricted access
INTA Digital (INTA)
Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria
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