Degradación y gestión sostenible del campo natural en el Uruguay: Resultados de una evaluación participativa en el norte del país

Gonzalo Cortes Capano, Fernando Coronel, Daniela Schossler, Daniel Formoso, Marcello Rachetti, Ramiro Zanoniani, Pablo Boggiano, Jimena Perez Rocha

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The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and working together with partners including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), developed a global project focused on “Participatory assessment of land degradation assessments and sustainable land management in grasslands and pastoral areas (Project GCP/GLO/530/GFF)”. The global project aimed to strengthen the capacity of local and national stakeholders in grassland areas to assess Land Degradation (LD), make informed decisions towards the promotion of Sustainable Land Management (SLM) and the preservation of environmental goods and services provided by these ecosystems.
Uruguay was one of the pilot countries together with Kenya, Burkina Faso, Niger and Kyrgyzstan. Livestock sector is important to the economies of all the five countries and plays a key role in the livelihoods of local populations. The choice of such diverse pilot countries, covering a variety of ecosystems and grazing practices, was based on the need to identify a standard global protocol, that protocol that is also locally relevant to for rangelands and grasslands assessment. The Participatory Rangelands and Grasslands Assessment tool (PRAGA), has been developed, piloted and refined for this purpose.
In Uruguay, the project was implemented by the FAO together with the Ministry of Livestock, agriculture and Fisheries (MGAP) and the Ministry of Housing, Land Management and Environment (MVOTMA). In December 2018, after signing of a letter of agreement with FAO, Cooperativas Agrarias Federadas joined the project to carry out the field assessment in the North pilot zone, which includes the Rivera Police Sectionals 3; 10 and 12 of Tacuarembó; Salto 11 and 12. CAF did it in association with Comisión Nacional de Fomento Rural (CNFR), Asociación Uruguaya de Ganaderos del Pastizal (AUGAP), Alianza del Pastizal, the Inter-Instituto Interamericano de (IICA) and the Faculty of Agronomy of the Universidad de la República.
A monitoring and evaluation process was carried out to assess the state of the natural grasslands in accordance with the management objectives of local users and based on a combination of scientific and local knowledge. The results obtained aim to support farmers and other local stakeholders to identify best practices for sustainable land management and their integration in policy design processes at all planning scales.

Synthesis of the main themes
In general terms, it is important to highlight that there is information available to estimate different social, productive and environmental indicators, both at the national level, as well as at the departmental and local level (e.g. police sections, municipalities). The main sources of information available were the 2011 National Population Census (National Statistics Institute), the Uruguay Territory Observatory (Office of Planning and Budget of the Presidency of the Republic), Agricultural Statistics Directorate (MGAP-DIEA, the 2011 General Agricultural Census and the DICOSE Affidavit), among others. However, relevant information related to land use, biodiversity and water resources and its recent trends, required further agreements and the elaboration of the relevant information. Several institutions processed and provided useful information for estimating the indicators presented in this document. These are substantive advances in the characterization of the agroecosystem and will also facilitate the articulations and future work of the institutions and stakeholders.
It is important to note that new information was generated within the framework of the project through consultation processes with different actors and through field work. This information was essential to guide and enrich the work process and the understanding of the situation and trends observed in the area.
The social indicators showed some inter-departmental heterogeneity regarding their status and trends. There were advances in terms of indicators associated with income inequality levels, percentage of people and households below the poverty line, according to the income method and the unemployment rate. However, it is important to note that all the departments included in the pilot zone presented lower human development index values than country average, significant territorial heterogeneity in the distribution of unsatisfied basic needs. In general terms, the departments north of the Río Negro and those bordering Brazil presented significantly higher values of percentages of the population with critical deficiencies and a significant gender gap. In this sense, it is important to continue making progress in the implementation of development and equity policies, especially associated with rural areas.
Regarding the data corresponding to livestock, the existence of cattle remained relatively stable or showed moderate increases in the period 2007-2018. The departments in the study area were characterized by the presence of large-scale establishments (greater than 400 ha) with an average number of people residing on farms around 2.3 people / farm. In turn, from information available as of 2018, it can be inferred that a significant proportion of the farms in the region (around 40%) correspond to family production units. It is also important to note the significant decrease in the existence of sheep stocking rate in the same period. This trend in the existence of sheep has been expressed as a concern by producers in the territory and a consequence of increasing insecurity and cattle rustling.
The stakeholders identified the insufficient information available to implement good grazing practices as a problem. According to their perception, the main cause of this problem was the lack of an integrated extension system, influenced by short-term projects and by the lack of job stability conditions for professionals trained in extension. Among other promising experiences, the importance of the role of the Plan Agropecuario and the Mesa de Ganadería sobre Campo Natural were highlighted as key factors in this matter.
Another important aspect evidenced both by the available information and by local consultation, is the depopulation of the countryside. According to official data, the Departments of Rivera, Salto and Tacuarembó have suffered a notable decrease in the rural population in recent decades. Local participants identified as the main causes or pressures of this phenomenon are associated with the lack of infrastructure (roads, communications, hospitals, and schools), basic services (electricity) and job opportunities. In turn, the need to improve the articulation between municipalities and national organizations was identified, in order to improve the road and other services (communications, electrification, health, education). In this sense, it is important to highlight the role of the Mesas de Desarrollo Rural as a space to articulate local demands for infrastructure and services, as well as the role of the MGAP, Ministry of Social Development and Colonization Institute to improve conditions and opportunities for young people, women and family producers from 2007 onwards.
In the area in the period 2000-15 it was observed that the herbaceous cover had a decrease of 6,6% and the cover corresponding to commercial afforestation had an increase of 6,3%. Natural grassland management problems are associated with land use changes, overgrazing, and soil erosion, the degradation of the vegetal carpet and the advancement of invasive exotic species. According to what was proposed by the participants in the workshops, there are currently instruments that help manage the problem, such as promoting good management of the natural grassland by institutions such as AUGAP and MVOTMA´s work in protected areas. Participants also identified the lack of valorization of grassland products and eco-systemic services, and the lack of qualified technicians on grasslands.
Regarding conservation policies in the area, it is important to highlight that, despite the high percentage of threatened grasslands and grasslands in areas of special conservation interest, only 4% of the grassland area in the pilot area is it is under regulated conservation, either as protected area or categorized as natural rural land.
The methodological approach was strongly based on the PRAGA In this particular case, the site to be assessed was defined integrating the indications of the PRAGA manual, the contributions of the technical experts field team and the integrated mapping exercise (with the recommendations of the participatory workshops). The field assessment aimed to evaluate the sites identified as “cases” of exemplary and nonexemplary areas, and to think about their scale to the rest of the target landscape from the lessons learned. For this, a work team was formed integrating local actors in the workshops, technicians from the ministries that act as counterparts in the project, FAO technicians and members of the Consortium made up of CAF, CNFR and the Faculty of Agronomy. It is clear that the integration achieved both by local participants, institutions and technicians, allowed obtaining a product with a high level of consensus among all the participants.
As a result of the collaborative process between these actors, in the field validation technical criteria were integrated with those provided by the participants in the workshops such as: depth, as an indicator of productive capacity; color, as an indicator of organic matter content (M.O.), the darker the color the higher the content; percentage of bare soil; biomass and density of the species present; height of the tapestry in winter (moment of choice); presence of exotic species (Capín annoni, gramilla, etc.); degree of weeding of shrubs and dwarf grasses.
The results of the field validation presented relevant results to understand the state of the natural grasslands in the pilot area. It revealed the high resilience of grasslands which, despite prolonged periods of overgrazing measured by different driving forces and pressures, maintained the ability to recover with simple adjustments in management and favorable weather.
As general conclusions of the assessment: 1) The qualification of the tapestry of the natural grassland in sparse and dense is related to the aptitude of the species to cover the soil, which in turn determines the type of flora that can develop. 2) In a thin tapestry where the floor is exposed by different circumstances, it is expected that the NDVI present a downward trend (decreasing). In a dense tapestry, the rating of increasing or decreasing is related to the accumulation of dry remains, product of unconsumed grasses with high fiber content. In this sense, a management tending to keep such species in a tender condition will have an increasing qualification, while if it is intended to accumulate dry matter to work “with grass”, a decreasing trend will be generated. 3) Lastly, it will also be an increasing rating when the field coverage is represented by shrubs and sub-shrubs, regardless of the state of the lower stratum. This situation is classified as “dirty field” and requires control strategies beyond grazing. In short, and with the records acquired so far, the changes in the trend of the NDVI are not always related to the livestock quality of the field in question, but respond to reversible situations as far as the conditions of the soil substrate allow.
Although this work represented an advance in the systematization of the available information, following and enriching a logical framework designed to account for the state of the grasslands (PRAGA), it is necessary to continue deepening in the development and adjustment of the tool. For example, it would be important to develop a system for monitoring the state of the natural field, which integrates and updates the available information on ecological, social and economic aspects, accounting for the main trends, pressures and policies developed for the management of the natural field. This information must be accessible to all stakeholders, particularly rural producers. In turn, in order to advance beyond the description of the system and to be able to report the monitoring and adaptive management of the natural field, it is recommended to develop ranges of desired state for the different indicators selected.
Bidragets titel på inmatningsspråkLand degradation and sustainable land management in grasslands and pastoral areas. : Results from a participatory assessment in Northern Uruguay
Originalspråkspanska
UtgivningsortUruguay
FörlagFAO
Antal sidor154
ISBN (elektroniskt)978-92-5-133317-4
DOI
StatusPublicerad - 2020
MoE-publikationstypD4 Publicerad utvecklings- eller forskningsrapport eller studie

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