Forest transition in the Andes: Pathways to optimize the balance between Natural Assets And Sustainable Development Goals

28.11 - 30.11.2018  
Tucumán, Argentina
Contact person:
Ricardo Grau, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Future Earth Natural Assets Knowledge-Action Network (KAN) will conduct a workshop "Forest transition in the Andes: Pathways to optimize the balance between Natural Assets And Sustainable Development Goals" in Tucumán, Argentina, from 28-30 November 2018.


The workshop will be conducted in Spanish.


The reversal of deforestation to re-forestation trends is referred as "Forest Transition" (FT). This process can be spontaneous, when it results from land abandonment or deintensification due to population urbanization/modernization, or it can be assisted by humans with some specific purpose. In any case, FT is contributing to the recovery of natural assets (NA) and their associated ecosystem services. Both types of FT have been observed in several locations of the tropical Andes, which are characterized by high biodiversity and play a key role in watershed conservation and water supply. It has been hypothesized (Wilson et al. 2017) that different pathways of FT lead to different types and amounts of NA. The resulting forests provide specific Ecosystem Services (ES) and the recovery of NA interacts differentially with other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at local and regional scale. Although, in a recent analysis our group identified hotspots of reforestation in the Andes (Nanni et al. under review) no regional analysis of the dynamics of the NA, nor of the services they provide have been performed.

A synthesis of the dynamics of the NA in the context of FT in the Andes should take into account the tradeoffs and synergies with other SDGs at local and regional scales.The relationship between most SDGs related to human development and NA may vary at different scales of analysis. Locally there is a trade-off between economic production and ecosystem conservation because they compete for the space. At larger extent of analysis (e.g. regional) this trade-off can be reverted and even synergies may arise. The spatial patterns of synergies and tradeoffs in montane areas may be shaped by topography which determines the capacity of NA to support the provision of ES (e.g water regulation). A regional synthesis of this kind of relations will be informative to local stakeholders (e.g. different levels of the State) who are responsible for the stewardship of different resources. This kind of synthesis should be integrated with local research assessing main processes and drivers that determine land cover dynamics.

The Lules watershed in Tucuman is undergoing incipient FT (Gutierrez Angonese & Grau, 2014), and provides the opportunity to explore potential drivers and scenarios of FT, leading to the optimization of land change trajectories for the co-benefits of watershed protection, biodiversity conservation, agriculture, recreational uses, carbon sequestration and local development; as well as their trade-offs with SDGs at local scale. In many aspects the study area is representative of tropical Andes mountains and thus provides the opportunity to extrapolate results and management approaches to one of the most priority regions in terms of biodiversity conservation.

The study site is locally perceived as a priority watershed because of its contribution to watershed regulation (irrigation of highly valuable horticultural crops, industrial water use for paper production, urban water consumption, and floods regulation).


The workshop will bring together local land scientists, local stakeholders (government, conservation NGOs, coordinator of local community forest based initiatives), international leaders on methods and concepts relevant to the study (Spatial modelling and participatory valuation of natural assets) and international referents of research and conservation initiatives highly relevant to contextualize this site; and give it large scale relevance.

1. Presentation/Discussion of a map of the dynamics of the NA in the tropical Andes (generated from the map of different types of FT) and identification of the main ES they provide.
2. Assessment of the efficiency of different schemes of payment for ecosystem services by comparing the forest dynamics in areas with and without these schemes. Proposals for improving these schemes?
3. Case study of Lules Watershed. Land cover maps. Spatial identification of potential forest recovery (e.g. by abandonment of agriculture or deintensification of ranching) dominated by different types of FT.
4. Suggestions to address potential drivers (e.g. design of interviews, how to link individual decisions with land cover changes).


Go to the Natural Assets KAN website for updates on how and when to register:

Further information

Interested participants are welcome to contact meeting organizer Ricardo Grau: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.