By Fernando Colautti
Earth storms are not new in Córdoba. In much of the central and southern province, decades ago, the dunes raged. The anecdotes about the unbearable mountains of dust that the winds used to accumulate are remembered even among the most veteran.
But good memory also recalls that, in addition to varying the way the land is tilled (without plows to move it) so that the dunes do not bury the peoples of the interior, the forest curtains helped, which in many of them were planted as a barrier.
Decades later, the problem mutated but did not end, and in some areas - such as the extreme south - it was even reactivated.
In general, today you no longer see forest curtains on the peripheries of towns and cities. Much worse: almost no trees are left standing in the rural area.
The native forests in the Cordovan plains are so reduced that when one appears in sight, although tiny, it draws attention. The agricultural fields stretch out like a huge arable ocean, with almost no trees to "interrupt" the landscape.
In the extreme south of Cordoba, for example, the “caldén” forests that were once its main characteristic, today are reduced to “smaller and smaller reserves”.
In the central zone, rural afforestation has long seemed only an image of the past.
There is the north, where also in the last decade the extension of the agricultural frontier has noticeably reduced the forested area.
Within this framework, two rural afforestation plans announced by the Province in recent years. None materialized. Both were presented, precisely, with the declared official objective of "reducing wind and water erosion."
In 2011, the Government of Córdoba submitted to the Legislature a project by which, in five years, 17 million trees would be planted in all fields, as a requirement of their owners, as well as on the road shoulders. That law was never passed.
The same has happened, until now, with the one announced in June 2013, which sought to require each field to afforest at least one percent of its surface.
The presence of soil-fixing trees is not the only answer to erosion and mitigation of ground storms. It could be qualified as necessary, although not sufficient for that purpose. But it is a variable in which, clearly, it has regressed more than it advanced.