on the La Plata Basin planning workshop
on landuse change and biofuels
The workshop was a first joint planning and brainstorming session to
develop a research program in the La Plata Basin and Central Brazil
with the following objectives:
Buenos Aires, March 28 - 31, 2007
To provide scientific knowledge in support of decision making that will
permit the Region of the la Plata Basin to use the opportunities
provided by the developments in the agricultural commodity and biofuel
market and by current global change processes while minimizing negative
impacts. And to determine the regional differentiation of these
processes and associated risks and vulnerabilities based on
infrastructure endowment, natural resource quality and climate.
Products and objectives:
A key task will be to characterize the multifunctionality of
landscapes, including “used” natural vegetation systems and associated
ecosystem services (browsed, firewood, fauna).
How does one evaluate mosaics of landuse, cover and management for
function and value? In some cases such as slope or riparian management
land cover and landscape connectivity have obvious relationships, but
planning and management of multifunctional landscapes in the context of
rural development will require much new interdisciplinary effort.
Since even some very basic information is missing (e.g. soils map)
strategies will be developed to develop basic “minimum package”
background information from remote sensed data, possibly based on the
RADAM experience. The IAI as an institution may play a role in data
rescue & assembly across the region. EMBRAPA is collecting “lost”
data for web based presentation of data and/or metadata. MODIS imagery
may be analysed regionally for that purpose. But the products need to
be user friendly and provide easy access to data banks.
Both climate and landuse/cover information will be modelled in hindcast
and forecast modes for 25 years which matches the socio-economic time
horizons. This will permit a reanalysis of climate change - landscape -
landuse links. Model data will be verified by joint climate and LUC
relying on existing networks including those from socio-economic
surveys. A critical task will be to link remote climate forcings to
regional conditions and feedbacks. Soil moisture is a key property that
will need remote sensing and local verification. Remote sensing may be
able to provide the entire cycle: precipitation - soil storage - river
flow. In addition 60 stations in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay
can provide data on changing frequency of rainfall extremes to be
integrated with the hindcasts (Olga
An additional approach will be to use diagnostics in different places
as proxy for future scenarios. Analysis across the entire basin,
including different countries permits a diagnostic of the status quo in
a region of advanced development, which may then be extrapolated to
future scenarios for less developed regions. Suitable indicators
may be: school, health, retirement, crime & mobility.
Over much of the region land rental is an issue that changes
conservation and management practices. Land value is linked to
knowledge (of optimal management practices). Social capital - skilled
labor demand - social indicators. A typical question in Argentina may
be “how come a pool from outside the region can have greater success
than the local experienced AACREA farmer?” Pools can take
greater risk at any one location because it is aggregated and spread
over all the pools production regions. How does that risk spread by
pools compare to potential crop insurance schemes?
The complexity of the analysis and the need for usable products require
that decision makers be integrated into the planning process from the
beginning. A fuzzy logic approach may be needed to develop decision
products for end-users.
The program will identify opportunities and impediments to the use of
climate knowledge, survey and identify knowledge gaps on the future of
agriculture based on demand, land use, technology, sustainability,
perspectives for biofuel production. Provide policy guides. Questions
of food vs. fuel security need to consider economic, carbon and energy
balances, evaluate whole farming systems, for instance the role of
large/small operators. Multiple perspectives need to consider “values”.
Internal biofuel demand is generated by decree within the region. So,
the contrast is no longer only “local food security” vs. “global fuel
The program will also develop a predictive capacity to indicate what
happens when production system successful in one region are
transplanted into marginal areas, or what happens when evolving systems
fail due to climate change. Could or would they go back or move to
something new. (e.g.: grazing lands that had fencing removed).
Methodologies for this analysis may be borrowed from industrial product
life cycle analysis.
Data analysis and synthesis should aim at ecological and economic
zoning, and provide location specific analyses that addresses
development and sustainability issues for different types of producers
and communities. This will provide an analysis of the geographic
distribution of benefits (for whom?), risks and climate uncertainties,
ecosystem capital & services, and point towards conflict potential.
Indicators derived for the science output can serve as decision making
input: the program has to provide guides and aids for decision making
at multiple levels. Where political and management structures are poor
the decision process may have to rely on (in)forming public opinion.
Core data storage facilities may be provided by CPTEC, there is a need
for additional distributed data storage.
Hydrology can be used to integrate land use and climate, with water as
a crucial link. Indicator quantities may be hydrological regulation and
water quality. Water table levels are related to landuse. Water
and land – climate feedbacks can be traced using isotopes. Paired
basin studies will fit the nested design of the overall project.
Hydrology issues are related to :
- runoff, sediment generation, erosion and sediment in rivers starting
to limit shipping
Three year moving averages of rainfall provide estimates of storage in
the landscape. Combined with in-year precipitation, these can be used
for flood prediction.
- virtual water export in produce, the value of water used by
agriculture including evapotranspiration. Studies need to develop
knowledge for land users on water cycles.
Increased runoff and flood regimes are straining infrastructure such as
dams, which may not be suitable under climate change. Past hydrological
events have been recorded in Argentina by interviews (Guillermo
The basin study will required a nested design with areas of intensive
study embedded in regions of less dense data. The climate super
site located near Foz do Iguaçu will have an intense data
collection in a circle of 100 km, with lower intensity over 500 km and
a third tier corresponding to the whole basin.
Priority areas for the nested design:
1) Chaco, Salta, Tucuman region, with rapid landuse change and
predominant activities by pools de siembra. INTA Salta can provide
expertise and data, ProGrano is an important farmer organization.
Grupo El Tejo, member of AACREA (Podestá)
2) Rio Verde, southern Goias, Paraná basin under predominantly
soy bean maize, with sugar cane moving in rapidly
3) Bonito, Paraguay watershed
4) Tacuarí NE Paraguay basin, with significant erosion issues
and spreading cane
5) Concordia, Uruguay with grasslands to forest transitions
Overlying these focal areas will be a basin-wide, large scale remote
sensed data sets including landuse & topography and 20 years of
Issues to be addressed in the
Rural development & adaptation
Societal relevance & links to be developed at
Assessments – data rescue
Linkages between biodiversity, landscape,
Environmental education programmes
Several science partners for the
program participated in the workshop:
The principal partner in the proposal development will be the La Plata
Basin initiative LPB coordinated by CLIVAR.
Central topics for LPB are improved climate prediction, climate impact
studies and the feedbacks from land use to climate.
Current land cover maps are too coarse for detailed studies, and LPB
will generate remotely sensed maps that can be linked to scenarios for
future climate and provide, for instance, inundation risk
mapping. LPB will bring together the following observation
components: existing data, radar climate integration, flux towers and
soil moisture measurement. Researchers in the LPB are also linked
into several other programs in the region:
CIC-GEF on La Plata Basin water management
Existing projects, information and networks which will enrich the
CLARIS LPB Europe South America network
CLIVAR concentrates on climate
variability & predictability,
level jet monitoring project used students & local people for
observations, established networks for installation & maintaining
of ~800 rain gauges which are used for ground-truthing climate models,
and have shown very major local divergences.
The European program SENSOR packages science for different “clients for
information” and developing interactive decision support systems in the
La Plata region. This will play an important role in extension efforts.
Existing on-the-ground networks of scientists & “people” in
meteorology can be linked in the new initiative be linked to social
surveys. The networks provide a reality check on models, allowing them
to be translated into climate risks. The networks also provide
opportunities for land cover monitoring in real time to recheck
importance, relevance of trends. These networks carry important
development implications, particularly for capacity building and
institutional linkages. Data collection, management and information
flow may be facilitated by commercial partners with existing
distribution (customer) networks (e.g.: Petrobrás). One
recurrent problem is the lack of follow-up on involvement of
stakeholders. It is suggested to make the networking and its
effectiveness and durability the object of an investigation, possibly
at PhD level.
There are existing family agriculture programs in Argentina, Brazil and
Uruguay. An ecological-economic zoning program in Br is classifying
land into “preserve, conserve, or consolidate categories. In the
latter new businesses receive support.
JFT’s group is surveying farmers’ perceptions of the last 25 years
development experience and their resulting expectations for the next 25
years of change. Linking the survey network and the networks
established for climate monitoring would provide an opportunity for
large-scale regional interdisciplinary data collection, for a
comparative multiscale analysis of processes of development, perception
of climate related uncertainty and risk management.
Additional sources of background data are:
An encuesta agropecuaria is
available annually in point form as part of the Argentina census.
INTA & INIA studies of producers
INDEC - determine data availability
AACREA studies social networks and their sustainability
EMBRAPA performs a social diagnostic and environmental classification
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