Cross-scale analysis of diversification processes in fuelwood use in three contrasting ecoregions of Argentina (Chaco, Pampa and Patagonia): the role of exotic species in subsistence




rural communities, ethnobotany, firewood, local management, pressure of use, subsistence


Fuelwood is one of the main sources of energy for rural populations in many environments and ecosystems. However, little research has been done on the diversification processes associated with the use of woody plants for fuel (UWPF). This study was carried out in rural communities of three eco-regions of Argentina (the phytogeographical provinces of Chaco, Pampa and Patagonia). Open and semi-structured interviews were performed in 72 households, focusing on the current richness of fuelwood, supply strategies and gathering sites. The biogeographical origin of the mentioned species was established, and the pressure of use on fuel wood was evaluated indirectly. The results were analysed qualitatively and quantitatively. A total of 78 species was recorded, of which 51 were native and 27 exotic. Gathering is the most common supply strategy in all the ecoregions studied, fuelwood being obtained mainly in sites with little human intervention. Pressure of use did not vary between native and exotic species. A generalized linear model showed that the use of native versus exotic species varied according to the ecoregion and the level of human intervention in the supply area, while acquisition strategies were similar for both native and exotic species in all eco-regions. Each region presented different use patterns, but the areas with most human intervention were always used to gather exotic plants. In line with our hypothesis, the diversification processes in UWPF varied according to ecoregion, each area having intrinsic characteristics associated with its history. The exotic species currently used as fuel wood increase the repertory of plants recognised and used by the local population.


Albuquerque UP (2006) Re-examining hypothesis concerning the use and knowledge of medicinal plants: a study in the Caatinga vegetation of NE Brazil. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 30:1–10 DOI:

Albuquerque UP, Cruz Da Cunha LVF, Lucena RFP, Alves RRN (eds) (2014) Methods and techniques in Ethnobiology and Ethnoecology. Springer/Humana Press, New York, USA DOI:

Albuquerque UP, Medeiros PM, Ferreira Júnior WS, Silva TC, Silva RRV, Gonçalves-Souza T (2019) Social-Ecological Theory of Maximization: Basic Concepts and Two Initial Models. Biological Theory 14:73–85 DOI:

Alcorn JB (2000) Factors Influencing Botanical Resource Perception Among the Huastec. Suggestions for Future Ethnobotanical Inquiry. Journal of Ethnobiology 1:221–230

Alencar NL, Araújo TAS, Amorim ELC, Albuquerque UP (2010) The inclusion and selection of medicinal plants in traditional pharmacopoeias – evidence in support of the diversification hypothesis. Economic Botany 64:68–79 DOI:

Arturi MF, Pérez CA, Horlent M, Goya JF, Torres Robles SS (2006) El manejo de los talares de Magdalena y Punta Indio como estrategia para su conservación. In: Mérida E, Athor J (eds) Talares Bonaerenses y su Conservación. Fundación de Historia Natural Félix de Azara, Buenos Aires, pp. 37–45

Baldauf C, Lunardi VDO (2020) Multiple perspectives on biodiversity conservation: from concept to heated debate. In: Baldauf C (ed) Participatory Biodiversity Conservation. Springer Nature Switzerland, Cham, pp. 15–32 DOI:

Berkes F, Ross H (2016) Panarchy and community resilience: Sustainability science and policy implications. Environmental Science and Policy 61:185–193 DOI:

Bhatt BP, Tomar JMS (2002) Firewood properties of some Indian mountain tree and shrub species. Biomass and Bioenergy 23:257–260 DOI:

Brown AD, Pacheco S (2006) Propuesta de actualización del mapa ecorregional de la Argentina. In: Brown AD, Martínez-Ortíz U, Acerbi M, Corcuera J (eds) La Situación Ambiental Argentina. Fundación Vida Silvestre, Buenos Aires, pp 28–31

Busso CA, Bentivegna DJ, Fernández OA (2013) A review on invasive plants in rangelands of Argentina. Interciência 38: 95–103

Cabrera AL (1971) Fitogeografía de la República Argentina. Boletín de la Sociedad Argentina de Botánica 14:1–42

Cardoso MB, Ladio AH (2011) Forestación peridoméstica en Patagonia y conocimiento ecológico tradicional: un estudio de caso. Sitientibus série Ciências Biológicas 11:321–327 DOI:

Cardoso MB, Ladio AH, Lozada M (2013) Fuelwood consumption patterns and resilience in two rural communities of the northwest Patagonian steppe, Argentina. Journal of Arid Environments 98:146–152 DOI:

Cardoso MB, LadioAH, Dutrus S, Lozada M (2015) Preference and calorific value of fuelwood species in rural populations in northwestern Patagonia. Biomass and Bioenergy 81:514–520 DOI:

Casas A, Torres-Guevara J, Parra F (2017) Domesticación en el Continente Americano. Volumen 2. Investigación para el manejo sustentable de recursos genéticos en el nuevo mundo. Editorial Morevalladolid, Morelia, Mexico DOI:

Chamorro MF, Ladio A. (2021). Management of native and exotic plant species with edible fruits in a protected area of NW Patagonia. Ethnobiology and Conservation 10:1–14

Chillo V, Goldenberg M, Pérez-Méndez N, Garibaldi LA (2020) Diversity, functionality, and resilience under increasing harvesting intensities in woodlands of northern Patagonia. Forest Ecology and Management 474:118349 DOI:

Cruz RS, Medeiros PM, Ferreira Junior WS, Silva RRV (2020) Factors that influence human behavior in fuelwood use and their implications for biocultural conservation. Ethnobiology and Conservation 9:1–13

Das K, Duarah P (2013) Invasive alien plant species in the roadside areas of Jorhat, Assam: Their harmful effects and beneficial uses. International Journal of Applied Engineering Research 3: 353–358

Doumecq MB (2019) Evaluación etnobotánica de los recursos vegetales combustibles actuales y potenciales de la Ribera Platense (Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina). PhD Thesis, Universidad Nacional de la Plata, La Plata, Argentina

Doumecq MB, Arenas PM, Hurrell JA (2020a) Etnobotánica de las especies combustibles comercializadas en la Ribera Platense, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Ethnobotany Research & Applications 19: 1–27 DOI:

Doumecq MB, Petrucci N, Stampella PC (2020b) Cuando los saberes no dialogan. Prácticas en conflicto en el Parque Costero del Sur (Buenos Aires). Bonplandia 29:57–70 DOI:

Ektvedt TM (2011) Firewood consumption amongst poor inhabitants in a semiarid tropical forest: a case study from Piura, northern Peru. Norwegian Journal of Geography 65:28–41 DOI:

Ferreira JWS, Albuquerque UP, Medeiros PM (2021) Reflections on the use of hypotheses in ethnobotany: A response to Leonti et al. (2020). Ethnobotany Research & Applications 21:1–5 DOI:

Foroughbakhch R, Hauad LA, Cespedes AE, Ponce EE, González N (2001) Evaluation of 15 indigenous and introduced species for reforestation and agroforestry in northeastern Mexico. Agroforestry Systems 51:213–221 DOI:

Gantchoff MG, Wilton CM, Belant JL (2018) Factors influencing exotic species richness in Argentina’s national parks. PeerJ 6:2–19 DOI:

Ghiani Echenique N, Doumecq MB, Pochettino ML (2018) Saberes botánicos en el talar. Utilización de plantas silvestres con fines medicinales y alimenticios en el Parque Costero del Sur (partidos de Magdalena y Punta indio, Buenos Aires, República Argentina). Gaia scientia 12:56–80 DOI:

Gonçalves PHS, Albuquerque UP, Medeiros PM. 2016. The most commonly available woody plant species are the most useful for human populations: a meta-analysis. Ecological Applications 26:2238–2253 DOI:

Hart G, Gaoue OG, de la Torre L, Navarrete H, Muriel P, Macía M J, Balslev H, León-Yánez S, Jørgensen P, Duffy DC (2017) Availability, diversification and versatility explain human selection of introduced plants in Ecuadorian traditional medicine. PloS One 12:1–16 DOI:

Höft M, Barik SK, Lykke AM (1999) Quantitative Ethnobotany. Applications of Multivariate and Statistical Analyses in Ethnobotany. Division of Ecological Sciences, UNESCO, People and Plant Working Paper, Paris, France

Hurrell JA, Delucchi G (2013) Aportes de la etnobotánica al estudio de las invasiones biológicas. Casos en la región rioplatense (Argentina). Historia Natural 3:61–76.

INDEC (2010) Censo Nacional de Población, Hogares y Viviendas. Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos, República de Argentina (INDEC). [] Accessed 20 July 2020

IPNI (2020) Search Author Database. The international Plant Names Index (IPNI). The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Harvard University Herbaria & Libraries and Australian National Botanic Gardens. [] Accessed October 2020

ISE (2006) Code of Ethics (with 2008 additions). International Society of Ethnobiology (ISE). [] Accessed 20 July 2020

Jashimuddin M, Masum KM, Salam AM (2006) Preference and consumption pattern of biomass fuel in some disregarded villages of Bangladesh. Biomass and Bioenergy 30:446–451 DOI:

Jiménez-Escobar ND (2019) Ciclo de las plantas forrajeras: dinámicas y prácticas de una comunidad ganadera del Chaco Seco, Argentina. Ethnobotany Research & Applications 18: 1–22 DOI:

Jiménez-Escobar ND, Martínez GJ (2019) Firewood knowledge, use and selection by rural populations in Dry Chaco of Sierra de Ancasti, Catamarca, Argentina. Ethnobiology and Conservation 8:1–19 DOI:

Jiménez-Escobar ND (2020) Clasificaciones y percepciones asociadas al conocimiento de la leña utilizada en una comunidad rural del Chaco Seco (Catamarca, Argentina). Acta Botanica Mexicana 128:1–17 DOI:

Kim LTT, Nichols JD, Brown K (2016) Firewood extraction and use in rural Vietnam: a household model for three communes in Ha Tinh Province. Agroforestry Systems 91:649–661 DOI:

Kituyi E, Marufu L, Wandiga S, Jumba IO, Andreae M, Helas G (2001) Biofuel availability and domestic use patterns in Kenya. Biomass and Bioenergy 20:71–82 DOI:

Leonti M, Casu L, Oliveira Martins DT, Rodrigues E, Benítez G (2020) Ecological theories and major hypotheses in ethnobotany: their relevance for ethnopharmacology and pharmacognosy in the context of historical data. Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia 30:451–466 DOI:

Levy SI, Aguirre JR, Martínez MM, Durán A (2002) Caracterización del uso tradicional de la flora espontánea en la comunidad Lacandona da Lacanhá, Chiapas, México. Interciencia 27:512–20

Mack RN, Simberloff, D, Lonsdale WM, Evans H, Clout M, Bazzaz FA (2000) Biotic invasions causes, epidemiology, global consequences, and control. Ecological Applications 3:689–710 DOI:[0689:BICEGC]2.0.CO;2

Madubansi M, Shackleton CM (2007) Changes in fuelwood use and selection following electrification in the Bushbuckridge lowveld, South Africa. Journal of Environmental Management 83:416–426 DOI:

MAGyP (2014) Argentina: plantaciones forestales y gestión sostenible. Ministerio de Agricultura, Ganadería y Pesca. [] Accessed 13 April 2021

Marofu M, Ludwig J, Andreae MO, Meixner FX, Helas G (1997) Domestic biomass burning in rural and urban Zimbabwe. Biomass and Bioenergy 12:53–68. DOI:

Martin G (1995) Ethnobotany. A methods manual. Chapmann & Hall, London, UK DOI:

Martínez GJ (2015) Cultural patterns of firewood use as a tool for conservation: A study of multiple perceptions in a semiarid region of Cordoba, Central Argentina. Journal of Arid Environments 121:84-99 DOI:

Martínez GJ, Manzano-García J (2019) Perception and use of none-native and invasive flora from Sierras de Córdoba in central Argentina. Acta Bot Brasilica 33:241–253 DOI:

Medeiros PM, Almeida ALS, Silva TC, Albuquerque UP (2011) Pressure indicators of wood resource use in an Atlantic forest area, Northeastern Brazil. Environmental Management. 47:410–424 DOI:

Medeiros PM (2013) Why is change feared? Exotic species in traditional pharmacopoeias. Ethnobiology and Conservation 2:1–3

Medeiros PM, Ferreira JWS, Ramos MA, Silva TC, Ladio AH, Albuquerque UP (2017) Why do people use exotic plants in their local medical systems? A systematic review based on Brazilian local communities. PLoS ONE 12: 1–14 DOI:

Meffe GK, Nielsen LA, Richard LK, Schernborn DA (2002) Ecosystem Management: adaptative, community-based conservation. Island Press, Washington, USA

Morales DV, Molares S, Ladio AH (2017) Firewood resource management in different landscape in NW Patagonia. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 5-111:1–13 DOI:

Ogunkunle ATJ, Oladele FA (2004) Ethnobotanical study of fuelwood and timberwood consumption and replenishment in Ogbomoso, Oyo state, Nigeria. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 91:223–236 DOI:

Perea MV, Pedraza G, Luceros J (2007) Relevamiento de la flora arbórea autóctona de la provincia de Catamarca. Consejo Federal de Inversiones, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Palmeri CN, Carma IM, Quiroga A (2008) Las Ecorregiones de Catamarca. Atlas de Catamarca. Catamarca, Argentina: Universidad Nacional de Catamarca. [] Accessed 01 August 2020

Quintana C, Girardello M, Balslev H (2019) Balancing plant conservation and agricultural production in the Ecuadorian Dry Inter-Andean Valleys. PeerJ 7:1–14 DOI:

Ramos MA, Medeiros PM, Almeida ALS, Feliciano ALP, Albuquerque UP (2008) Use and knowledge of fuelwood in an area of Caatinga vegetation in NE Brazil. Biomass and Bioenergy 32:510–517 DOI:

Santos LL, Nascimento ALB, Veira JF, Silva VA, Voeks R, Albuquerque UP (2014) The Cultural Value of Invasive Species: A Case Study from Semi–Arid Northeastern Brazil. Economic Botany 68:283–300 DOI:

Silliman B, Mozdzer T, Angelini C, Brundage J, Esselink P, Bakker J, Gedan K, van de Koppel J, Baldwin, A (2014) Livestock as a potential biological control agent for an invasive wetland plant. PeerJ 2:1–19 DOI:

Silva APT, Medeiros PM, Ferreira JWS, Silva RRV (2018) Does forest scarcity affect the collection and use of firewood by rural communities? A case study in the Atlantic Forest of Northeastern Brazil. Economic Botany 72:1–10 DOI:

Smith BD (2009) Resource Resilience, Human Niche Construction, and the Long-Term Sustainability of Pre-Columbian Subsistence Economies in the Mississippi River Valley Corridor. Journal of Ethnobiology 29:167–183 DOI:

SNEEI (2020) Sistema Nacional sobre Especies Exóticas Invasoras. [] Accessed 26 November 2020

Tabuti, JRS, Dhillion SS, Lye KA (2003) Firewood use in Bulamogi County, Uganda: species selection, harvesting and consumption patterns. Biomass and Bioenergy 25:581–596 DOI:

Tuxill J, Nabhan GP (2001) Plantas, comunidades y áreas protegidas: una guía para el manejo in situ. Pueblos y Plantas vol. 3. Editorial Nordan-Comunidad, Montevideo, Uruguay

Zuloaga FO, Morrone O, Belgrano MJ (2008) Catálogo de Plantas Vasculares del Cono Sur. (Argentina, sur de Brasil, Chile, Paraguay y Uruguay). Instituto de Botánica Darwinion. [] Accessed 11 May 2020




How to Cite

Jiménez-Escobar, N. D. ., Doumecq, M. B. ., Morales, D., & Ladio, A. H. (2021). Cross-scale analysis of diversification processes in fuelwood use in three contrasting ecoregions of Argentina (Chaco, Pampa and Patagonia): the role of exotic species in subsistence. Ethnobiology and Conservation, 10.



Original research article

Most read articles by the same author(s)