Preventing desertification through conservation activities in Paso Grande, Argentina

Preventing desertification through conservation activities in Paso Grande, Argentina

Project Status: 2013 – 2017
Promoting local capacity to improve benefits and protect the landscape of mountain dry forest in Paso Grande, Argentina

Non-governmental organization Fundación Agreste (Ecología y Medio Ambiente) has set up since 2013 a set of projects in the frame work of the Assessment and monitoring of land degradation and desertification Pilot site, Paso Grande, supervised by the National Observatory of Land Degradation and Desertification. The projects are aimed to install and promote capacities of people to contribute to sustainable local development and tourism, taking advantage of the numerous benefits offered by natural landscape. At the same time, the foundation works in implement good practices of sustainable land management. The two chambers of provincial representatives (Deputies and Senators) support the projects which are included on the political agenda.


Paso Grande, in the province of San Luis, is located in the transition of three ecoregions and its native flora is quite unique and very vulnerable. It is an area of dry weather during most of the year, with rains only during the late summer. The various global changes in recent years are causing forest fires and overflowing river, plus livestock pressure (excess load) made to have a significant decline of the native flora, with high cultural value because those are spices traditionally used in teas, condiments and natural food for goats (in the traditional extensive farming).

The set of projects contributes to:

  • Know the variety, quantity and locations of species, their current status and evolution and collectively develop strategies to conserve and make a sustainable use of the endangered spices.
  • Understand the impacts of degradation of natural resources, learn the ancient techniques and properties attributed to spices founded and collectively develop strategies to reinstate the flavours and scents through traditional knowledge and new technologies.
  • Contribute to the opportunities of the population through capacity building for the development of production and /or implement sustainable practices that improve their incomes thus reducing the pressure on the ecosystem.

Through community workshops, villagers established their major social problems and also provided information on the landscape, the plants related products. In addition, to cope with lack of infrastructure accommodating tourists, specific training on small business initiatives was undertaken and cooperatives were developed to help people start small businesses that enhance their income. Also was supported the development of orchards to improve food security.

Biophysical assessment and monitoring activities also involves the residents, collecting samples monthly, making measurements and taking pictures on the observation of landscapes within their plots. In workshops, farmers identified the main problems of different landscapes and problems related to production were performed, and this helped determine priority best practices for each type of production and landscape area.


The project seeks to implement good practices in demonstration plots in order to raise awareness among producers in the region to improve production both in quality and added value. Incorporating social enterprises is a significant advance. Few knew mechanisms of social enterprise and the possibility to offer the same benefits, flexibility, and ensure stability, while revalue local cultural products.


Fundación Agreste offers a volunteer and professional practices program through which students, graduates and people interested can meet the place, the people and participate in research observations. The program includes the elaboration of an exclusive plan of activities for each participant, which allows focus the activities during the stay in their first interests or needs of career, including the course and practice of Spanish and delivery of certificates.

Read the complete description of the project.