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* Note: All figures are rounded. The table does not include US$76,000 in unallocated GEF funds, nor the associated $19,000 in government cofinancing.
Annex 16: STAP Roster Review

Argentina: Argentina GEF Sustainable Forestry Development

Javier A. Simonetti

Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Chile

1. Assessment of the scientific and technical soundness of the project.
The project aims to foster a balance between economic growth and environmental protection by mainstreaming the conservation of biological diversity into forestry practices. The components of the project are largely consistent with its goal targeting on improving or developing institutional capacity as well as biodiversity-sensible plantation practices, promoting technology transfer, socialization, implementation and monitoring of such practices. The project aims also to strength and to reciprocally improve others ongoing forestry and environmentally-related projects in Argentina.
The project is based on a worldwide increasing demand for forest products. Argentina is expected to expand the surface under plantations, expansion that is assumed to negatively impinge upon biodiversity. Threats on biodiversity, actual or potential, of current and future forestry plantations are not explicit though, be it environmental, legal or social. Similarly, the project is unclear regarding the hierarchical level (genetic to ecosystem) and component (compositional to functional) of biodiversity menaced or altered. Therefore, the development of useful, objective and verifiable indicators is lacking despite its relevance for monitoring and proper assessment of success of an admittedly needed project.
An ambitious project, aims to develop research on best practices, build capacities from youngsters up to practitioners and land owners, as well as institutionalize newly generated and already available knowledge in public policies. Such activities are consistent with its aims but might be overoptimistic in a five-year period.
An unexplored risk is the empirical falsification on an explicit assumption regarding the reduction in deforestation rates expected as a by-product of plantation forestry, as experienced by native forests in several countries. Facing an expanding market, counting on proper land quality reachable at low alternative costs and adequate infrastructure, forestry plantations might grow even not only on deforested areas but on currently forested ones, particularly if perverse incentives pervade this productive sector. Such risk ought to be explicitly considered in the project. Further, the potential increase in the rate of habitat transformation from grasslands into plantations is ignored, and environmental, social and economic consequences apparently neglected.
The project might benefit from carefully considering experiences elsewhere such in Australia or Chile and projects like Accelerates, aimed to assess the vulnerability of productively-oriented ecosystems to environmental changes in support of the convention of biological diversity.
Lessons learned from this project have significant implications for other GEF-supported projects. Analysis, synthesis and sharing of such lessons might be an outstanding outcome from this project.
Response: Agreed. We clarify that the project will work at both the ecosystem and the species levels of biodiversity. Components 1 and 2 will work largely at the landscape levels to encourage broad impacts while component 3 will focus on pre-identified priority areas indicated in the maps in Annex 16. These areas have been described in detail in preparation documents, along with the location and size of the area, and include endemic, threatened and endangered species identified in each. This information will be incorporated into the operational manual for the project for additional clarity and has been revised in the latest version of the Brief. Due emphasis to grassland transformation is incorporated into the revised project document.

Mainstreaming of biodiversity conservation into plantation forestry practices is a new and growing area of concern. The first international conference on this theme “Biodiversity and Conservation Biology in Plantation Forests” sponsored by IUFRO was held in 2005. The project is on the cutting edge of this field, and there are many lessons to be learned and shared, but they are not without risks. To mitigate the risk, the project includes a robust monitoring and evaluation activity that will be carried out in conjunction with experts in the various geographic locales, to provide timely feedback to implementation and the possibility to make adjustment to approaches as the project proceeds.

The project includes study tours for professionals and technicians, and the recommendations for visits to Australia and Chile are well taken, and will be considered.
2. Identification of the global benefits of the project.
Regions suitable for forestry activities in Argentina harbor rich biological diversity, as recognized by national and international organizations. A significant fraction of such regions are privately-owned. The proposed project aims at conserving biodiversity of global and regional significance. Furthermore, and more importantly, successful completion of this project might strength the increasing links between public and private entities in conserving biodiversity in productive settings. Such initiatives are increasingly common in Latin America and successful achievements might encourage more initiatives as will depict a clear win-win scenario for both environmental protection and economic development without necessarily impinging on the profitability of forestry activities. Such benefits are clearly pinpointed and acknowledged in the project.
Response: Agreed.
3. Compliance with GEF objectives and relevant conventions.
The project complies with the GEF Operational programs related to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in production landscapes, particularly those regarding forest and semi-arid ecosystems (GEF Operational Programs OP3 and OP1, respectively). On this regard, the project also complies with the CBD, aiming to reach sustainable forest management, appealing to an innovative way for achieving biodiversity conservation in Argentina with far-ranging consequences. The reliance on the conservation of biological beyond protected areas is a complementary strategy to implement policies of GEF, particularly those related to the sustainability of protected areas as well and most directly, the enhancement of biological diversity in productive areas (GEF Strategic Priority SP 1 and SP 2, respectively). The project, by way of research and capacity building is in accordance with the generation and dissemination of best practices for addressing biological diversity issues (GEF Strategic Priority SP).
The ways and means to fulfill mentioned objectives are clearly indicated along the proposed project, as there are the ones to engage in other initiatives, such as the Argentinean National Biodiversity Convention.
Similarly, the proposed project is clearly linked to past and ongoing GEF and other agencies activities. The project also builds upon previous experiences and capacities built by these experiences, counting on them from logistic, administration and technical support.
Response: Agreed.
4. Project’s regional context.
The project tackles regionally relevant issues. Forestry activities in Argentina are deployed in ecosystems shared by Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. Similarly, forestry is similarly relevant to the economy of several countries in Latin America. Innovative ways to reduce conflicts between forestry and biological conservation, fostering its protection beyond protected areas, relying on private-public partnership are of immediate regional relevance. Generating and adopting biodiversity-sensible forestry practices might positively impinge upon both more effective biodiversity conservation and national economies region-wide.
Response: Agreed.
5. Potential replicability of the project to other sites.
Lessons leaned in this project can be immediately replicated in several countries worldwide. Forestry plantations based on exotic species are common in Latin America and elsewhere. Many of these countries also face similar challenges with Argentina, such as a protecting rich biodiversity in privately-owned lands, including productive areas. Successful experiences might encourage the private sector beyond testing areas in Argentina but elsewhere to engage in environmentally respectful practices, leading to win-win scenarios ranging from forest certification to sustaining viable population or ecological processes. Similarly, failures in this project might discourage governmental organizations and other relevant stakeholders in neighboring countries to tackle biodiversity conservation along the private sector. Such responsibility is an unavoidable risk of the project. If successful, the impact is far-reaching.
Similar experiences are being carried out in the region, at least some objective and activities. Therefore, close collaboration with proper stakeholders from other countries might be adequate from the inception of the proposed project in order to ensure replicability and hence, consolidation, impact and sustainability.
Response: Agreed. The project is on the leading edge of concerns for integrating conservation into the productive landscape. Because 95% of Argentina lies outside of protected areas, mostly in productive landscapes, its impact could be significant and produce many lessons learned. The project intends to ameliorate risks as indicated in point no. 1. It is noted that new efforts often experience unanticipated challenges, and while there is risk, the baseline scenario without intervention portends a situation where globally-important biodiversity is increasingly threatened in the production landscape.
6. Project’s sustainability.
Sustainability is ensured by its success in effectively mainstreaming biodiversity conservation in plantation management. If achieved, best-practices are expected to be widely adopted, without further need for financial investments. Adoption of such practices might well expand beyond Argentinean plantations due to both the similar challenges faced by plantation management across the region and because a fraction of large plantations are owned by few multinational companies, holding properties region-wide. Actually, such best-practices ought to generate higher returns to plantations owners. Building capacities among stakeholders, from governmental agencies to large and small plantations owners and managers is a well taken step to ensure sustainability and replicability. Proper indicators variables are needed for objective monitoring of success.
Response: Agreed. The indicators have been revised for submission to GEF and, as indicated in point no. 1 are complemented by a robust monitoring and evaluation activity which draws on expertise at the priority geographic locales.
7. Degree of involvement of relevant stakeholders.
The project considers the participation of stakeholders along the proposed project components. Public officials, land and forestry owners and members of the academic sector are explicitly considered. Potential obstacles to participation are recognized but reliance in top-down approaches (government to civil society, technology transfer) as well as overemphasis in roundtables might discourage the private sector and the academia. Emerging public-private ways of governance to achieve environmental sustainability, particularly when dealing with private companies, might be a challenge to overcome given the top-down approach applied.
Response: In addition to the roundtable discussions, the project seeks to foster a high level of engagement with large industries through component 3 which includes direct outreach to the industry. Experience shows that there will be some innovators in this population, while others will be more difficult to engage. Emphasis will be placed initially on capitalizing on the good will and intentions of innovators. During project preparation private industries participated in the dialogues and provided favorable comments for the project. At the same time, it is true, that they might withdraw from a process that is insufficiently structured, or continue to participate in meetings or roundtables not viewed in their best interests. Study tours and training of agency professionals should help to draw on lessons learned in the few other mainstreaming efforts around the world that can be passed onto industries. In order for development to be balanced, corporate responsibility must ultimately include actions that benefit the surrounding environment and the people that live there. This project aims to foster this through the mainstreaming of biodiversity conservation into productive activities of large- as well as small- and medium-level producers.
8. Capacity building elements.
Capacity building, including strengthening institutional capacities is a well taken component. Emphasis in training of public sector ought to be balanced with more protracted in evidence-based decision-making to relevant stakeholders rather than relying on technology transfer and adoption. Implementation of environmental education programs is also addressed, ensuring dissemination and sustainability of the potential adoption of best practices in forest management.
Response. Agreed.
9. Innovativeness of the project.
The project builds upon growing evidence and experiences regarding the potential use of forestry plantations in biodiversity conservation. Similarly, the proposed project builds upon the tendency of large forestry companies to engage in environmentally friendly practices. Aiming to capitalize on these tendencies, the project is aims to mainstream biodiversity conservation based on best practices in forestry plantations, usually regarded as almost incompatible activities. Aiming at reaching out from governmental entities, the academia, large as well as small plantation owners, projects as this are truly innovative.
Response: Agreed.
10. Final comments:
There is a clear need to incorporate biodiversity conservation in the forestry industry. There is an excellent opportunity to generate conditions for win-win scenarios and this project aims to achieve it.
Response: Agreed.

Annex 17: Priority Sites and Criteria

The first level of analysis for selection of the project area involved reviewing globally important ecosystems present in Argentina from existing resources such as the World Bank-WWF priority setting exercise, Conservation International Hotspots, the WWF Database on Neotropical Ecosystems ( and information from BirdLife International and Aves Argentinas (regarding Important Bird Areas and Endemic Bird Areas). This biodiversity information was placed within the context of the most important plantation forestry regions of Argentina. These areas with greatest planted areas have been determined through the Inventario Nacional de Plantaciones (National Plantations Inventory) of 2001 and its subsequent updates from the SAGPyA. This provided the initial guidance for the project preparation and prioritization of the Patagonia, Mesopotamia, and Delta ecosystems.
Following this exercise, the preparation team initiated a second, more refined level of ecosystem analysis to determine priority areas for project focus. This process involved geoprocessing of threatened species data, vegetation and critical habitat information, plantation data, protected areas. In addition, workshops and consultations were held in order to assist in the establishment of priority areas. These processes resulted in the preparation of maps, lists, and other tools that will assist project implementation.
Following is an illustrative table with the priority areas for Patagonia and reasons for their selection:

Priority Areas for Biodiversity Conservation in Productive Forestry Landscapes


Area (ha)

Lagunas de Varvarco, Volcan Domuyo, and Northern Cordillero de Viento

High endemism, and unique biodiversity associated with thermal springs



Vulnerable species including Nothofagus glauca, and others


Huinganco, Canada Molina and Canada Rahueco

High endimism, and unique native stands of Austrocedrus chilensis, northernmost range of Nothofagus antartida and Nothofagus dombeyii


Paso del Cudio-Est. la Primavera

High endimism and unique native stands of Austrocedrus chilensis



High endimism and unique native flora associated with thermal springs


Riscos Bayos

High endimism and unique native stands of Austrocedrus chilensis


Pino Hachado

Vulnerable species including stands of Arauracaria araucana (IUCN vulnerable list)


Macizo de Chachil

High endimism and Vultur gryphus habitat


Sierras de Catan Li

Vulnerable species including stands of Arauracaria araucana (IUCN vulnerable list)


Las Colorados

Remnant biodiversity and Vultur grpyphus habitat



Unique native stands of Nothofagus oblicua, and Araucaria araucana (IUCN vulnerable list)



Important stand of Arauracaria araucana (IUCN vulnerable list), habitat for Hippolamus bisulcus (IUCN endangered list)



Important stand of Arauracaria araucana (IUCN vulnerable list), habitat for Octoden bridgesi, Rhinoderma darwinnii (IUCN vulnerable list) and Pudu puda



Genetic variation of population of Cusquea culeou


Hua-Hum, Cabaceras de los lagos Lacar y Lolog

Important stand of Nothofagus oblicus, habitat for Hippolamus bisulcus (IUCN endangered list) and Rhinoderma darwinii (IUCN vulnerable list)


Cabaceras del lago Espejo

Southern limit of Nothofagus nervosa, two important amphibians include Rhinoderma darwinii and Hylorina sylvatica (IUCN vulnerable list)


Paso Chacabuco Guanaco

High endimism with important native stands of Austracedrus chilensis


Paso Chacabuco

High endimism with important native stands of Austracedrus chilensis



High endimism with important native stands of Austracedrus chilensis


Cuyin Manzano

Important native stands of Austracedrus chilensis, habitat for endangered species, Ctenomys sociabilis


Zona occidental cordillerana entre Brazo Rincon del Nahuel Huapi and northern Cabacera Steffen-Martin

Stands of Fitzroya cupressoides (IUCN endangered list) and Pilgerondendron uviferum (IUCN vulnerable list). Habitat for Hippelocampus bisculcu (IUCN endangered list), Batrachyla antartida, Hylorina silvatica (both considered vulnerable nationally) and Rhinoderma darwinii (IUCN vulnerable list).


La Fragua

Important habitat for Vulturus gryphus


Pilcaniyeu Norte

Habitat for Vulturus gryphus and Lestodelphys halli (nationally vulnerable)


Pilcaniyeu Sur

Important stands of Austracedrus chilensis and and habitat for Vulturus gryphus and Lestodelphys halli (nationally vulnerable)


Challhuaco and Nirihuau

Important stands of Nothofagus pumilio and N. antartida. Habitat for Atelognathus nitoi (IUCN vulnerable list), Hippocamelus bisulcus (IUCN endangered list), and Buteo ventralis (nationally vulnerable).


Manso Inferior-Lago Escondido-Rio Azul

Stands of Fitzroya cupressoides (IUCN endangered list) and Pilgerodendron uviferum (IUCN vulnerable list). Habitat for Hippelocampus bisculcu (IUCN endangered list).


Cordon Serrucho

Stands of Fitzroya cupressoides (IUCN endangered list) and Pilgerodendron uviferum (IUCN vulnerable list), and unexpected presence of Austrocedrus chilensis.


Brazo Occidental del Lago Pueblo

Remnant stands of Fitzroya cupressoides (IUCN endangered list) and unique flora including Persea lingue and Escallonia leucantha and unexpected presence of Austrocedrus chilensis.


Laguna los Alerces - Reserva Forestal Epuyen

Stands of Fitzroya cupressoides (IUCN endangered list).


Lago Esperanza

Stands of Fitzroya cupressoides (IUCN endangered list), Pilgerodendron uviferum (IUCN vulnerable list), and Podocarpus nubigena.


Rio Tigre

Stands of Fitzroya cupressoides (IUCN endangered list).


Menendez, Co. Riscoso, Cordon Situacion

Stands of Fitzroya cupressoides (IUCN endangered list). Habitat for Oncifelis guigna and Rhinoderma darwinii (IUCN vulnerable list) and Hylorina sylvatica (nationally vulnerable).



Stands of Austrocedrus chilensis and Pilgerodendrun uviferum (IUCN vulnerable list)



Stands of Pilgerodendrun uviferum (IUCN vulnerable list). Habitat for Hippocamelus bisulcus.


Lagos Fontana - La Plata

Habitat for Hippocamelus bisulcus.


Annex 18: Maps

Argentina: Argentina GEF Sustainable Forestry Development


1 Wege, D. and Long, A. (1995). Key Areas for Threatened Birds of the Neotropics. Cambridge, UK. Birdlife International

2 STAP. 2004. Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Production Landscapes and Sectors (Interim) Report. GEF.

3 Small producers are defined as those with less than 50 hectares, medium producers have 50 to 1000 hectares, and large producers have planted areas greater than 1000 hectares (Argentina, National Inventory of Forest Plantations, SAGPyA, 2001).

* By supporting the proposed project, the Bank does not intend to prejudice the final determination of the parties' claims on the disputed areas

4 Dinnerstein, E. et al. (1995). A Conservation Assessment of the Terrestrial Ecoregions of Latin America and the Caribbean. Washington, DC. WWF-World Bank.

5 Wege, D. and Long, A. (1995). Key Areas for Threatened Birds of the Neotropics. Cambridge, UK. Birdlife International

6 World Wildlife Fund. (2001). Humid Pampas (NT0803), Wild World WWF Full Report. Accessed March 2005.

7 Bilenca, D. and Minarro, F. 2004. Identificacion de Areas Valiosas de Pastizal en las Pampas y Campos de Argentina, Uruguay y Sur de Brasil. Fundacion Vida Silvestre Argentina.


9 Current forestry promotion legislation will expire in 2009. The GoA has indicated its interest in strengthening biodiversity considerations within the context of the promotion regime. The proposed project will support and develop recommendations for ways to improve the regulatory and legal framework regarding planting. It will also contribute to the dialog on the new legislation through the roundtables, which will be developed. While the current law is reported as being less than ideal, the proposed project has been designed to work within the current framework, thus it will not impede the project from achieving its stated objectives.

10 Financial Management Practices in World Bank-financed Investment Operations, issued by the FM Sector Board on November 3, 2005

11 See OP 6.00, Bank Financing.
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