Formoseño Model Forest

Country: Argentina
Location: Province of Formosa, northern part of the country 
Area of Model Forest: 2000
Area: 800 000 ha
Regional affiliation: Ibero-American Model Forest Network

Contact information

Name: Carlos Noel Paton
Adress: Lavalle  S/N Barrio Centro, (3636) Ing. Juarez – Pcia. De Formosa, Argentina
Tel: +54-37-1142-0257

Forest and resource profile

The Formoseño Model Forest is situated within the semi-arid Parque Chaqueño, which is part of the Gran Chaco phytogeographic region of South America. The area is almost completely covered in forests that are under varying levels of conservation. The area includes two well-defined forest types: arborous and shrub. The best-known forest species here are the Algarrobo (Ceratonia siliqua Prosopis sp.) and the red Quebracho (Schinopsis quebracho colorado).

The Model Forest area includes two nature reserves. The conservation of biological diversity in the region is of great importance, given that the Parque Chaqueño possesses unique characteristics that cannot be found elsewhere in the world, including some animal species that are listed in the CITES. The availability of an adequate volume of high-quality water in this semi-arid region is a key issue. The population of approximately 18 500 includes the Wichí, Toba and Pilagá indigenous peoples along with other rural and urban inhabitants. 

Economic profile

The area of the FMF includes urban centres and rural, indígenous and mixed (criollo) communities. The aboriginal population amounts to approximately 10,000 people, belonging to two ethnic groups: Wichí and Toba. The Wichí and Tobas are migratory hunter-gatherers, who move according to their own calendar throughout a specific geographic region in groups or clans of family relations. These migrations are intimately connected to the water (mobilizing axis in the region), fruit harvesting, and hunting.

Currently, this involves an average of some 40 families in group settlements, forming communities, many of which hold land under community property titles and are organized into civic associations. The activities conducted by these groups vary by location: the rural communities mainly practice small livestock farming, agriculture, and artisanal crafts, maintaining very close ties to nature, which provides them with their subsistence; meanwhile, the urban groups depend heavily on piecework to provide money for their families. 

Why a Model Forest?

Forestry activities in the area tend toward non-sustainable, selective extraction. This has led to the gradual impoverishment and degradation of the region's forested areas. Poor livestock management and grazing on new forest growth hinders proper forest regeneration and contributes to an increase in desertification.

A lack of knowledge among the area's inhabitants regarding resource potential and management has had a negative effect on sustainable development in the region. The low income of the population (an estimated 74% have unmet basic needs) and lack of organization among the rural community do not support the integrated use of resources, the development of alternative sustainable economic activities, or proper marketing. 


Among the members of the organization, note the following:

  • Municipality of Ing. Juárez
  • Indigenous communities
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia [National university of Patagonia]
  • Lumber merchants
  • Association of livestock farmers
  • Association of apiculturists
  • National gendarmerie
  • National parks
  • Public organizations
  • Association of artisans 

Strategic goals

  • Include all the actors in the process for sustainable development, harmonizing the environmental, political, social, cultural and economic issues
  • Ensure that the proposal, lines of action and activities are solid, promoting compromise across all components for project viability
  • Offer support to governmental authorities, civil institutions and the general population, and appropriate tools needed for decision-making with respect to governmental plans of action, expansion of production capacities, orientation of private investments and technological, training and educational requirements
  • Diversification of production 
  • Favour a sustainable development model that will ensure the permanent presence of the rural population on the land
  • Determine and evaluate the potential of the area’s natural resources, to organize the activities in an integrated fashion: forestry, farming, livestock, industry and tourism
  • Implement systems for integrated management of natural resources that are supported scientifically, locally validated and transferred to their potential beneficiaries. 
  • Harmonize the different stages of production activities, from use of natural resources to commercialization, in such a way that the area of the project is transformed into a supplier for manufactured raw materials
  • Encourage the participation of women 
  • Favour the dissemination and exchange of knowledge and experiences with other regions of the country and abroad
  • Maintain and disseminate the cultural heritage of the various communities settled in the project area

Achievements to date

  • Implementation of the project “Fortalecimiento al Desarrollo Productivo Comunitario” financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) provided effective tools for addressing problems related to health and nutrition
  • Incorporating new techniques and new activities that contribute to diversification of family production in a Toba community of approximately 450 individuals 
  • Implementing forest practices and activities with the goal of conserving and recovering natural resources, incorporating an appropriate level of technology for appropriation by the community, and improving the current production system. The intention is for this model to be reproducible in other scenarios or systems in the zone or region with equivalent social, economic, and natural characteristics
  • Fruit orchard in a Wichí community, and a forest hatchery in a Toba community (currently being replicated elsewhere)
  • Managing and enriching native woodlands with the introduction of pastures, improvement and management of deteriorated forest stands in the region and an increase in livestock operations
  • To compliment these activities the FMF technical team hopes to generate written and audiovisual materials for diffusion to interested audiences