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DEV Research Seminar – Wednesday 23rd January

Elena Zepharovich, from the University of Bern, presents her research on perceptions of deforestations in the Argentinean Chaco.


Environmental justice in land use change. Perceptions of deforestation in the Argentinean Chaco.

Wednesday 23rd January | ARTS 2.01 | 3.30-5pm | Elena Zepharovich.

The Gran Chaco, Latin America’s second largest forest after the Amazon, has one of the highest deforestation rates worldwide. In the province of Salta, Argentina, the deforestation rate is particularly high with an average of two soccer fields per minute. Consequently, Salta is experiencing substantial environmental and social change. The province is characterised by the presence of various actors (large-scale producers, criollos, indigenous peoples, governmental actors, civil society) with strongly diverging interests concerning deforestation and land use change.

The paper looks at deforestation from a perspective of environmental justice, based on the three categories of recognition, distribution and procedure. To capture the perceptions of the various stakeholders, we deploy the method of “Q”, which combines qualitative and quantitative methods to study subjectivity. Our results point to the existence of three significant perspectives, indicating the complexity of the policy situation, the heterogeneity within stakeholder groups and the marginalisation of certain groups. A better understanding of stakeholders’ perception is essential to give space to marginalised groups, shed light on existing power relations and therefore advise future policies interventions necessary to revert the deforestation trend. For conservation to be sustainable, it has to be just. Policies aiming at slowing down deforestation in the Chaco eco-region, while gaining the support of the various stakeholders, must adequately address the distributional, procedural and recognition issues identified in this study.