Article

Dichotomous Delta: Between the Natural and the Metropolitan: The Case of the Parana Delta, Argentina

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Abstract

The Parana Delta remains within the wild condition of its islands and the growing urbanization of its edges. These contrasts intensified in the Lower Delta due to the proximity to Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area, the major conurbation of the country. As in other Latin American cities, the metropolitan expansion of Buenos Aires was characterized by an acceleration of the economic and territorial processes leading to spaces of instability and increasing the historical socio-spatial polarization. In contrast to years of low intervention of the State and legal voids at the metropolitan level, private capital has shaped the territory overwhelming any local capacity of regulation and impacting the environment in a negative way. The result was an increase in social and spatial segregation together with an unsustainable use of the land and an unplanned advance over the delta. In this paper, the dichotomies within this case will be presented in order to transcend a mere ecological-demographic perspective of the metropolitan growth in relation to the natural environment. Finally, a discussion will be set to analyse the possibilities of spatial planning strategies as an integral approach to the management of the system taking into account the specificities of the context.

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... The first emergency villa created in Buenos Aires was in 1932, and this typology grew over time forming an irregular pattern of occupation in intermittent areas of the city, first near the port and then in other areas. The suburbanization process started in the 1940s (Hardoy & Gutman, 2007, p. 220;Zagare, 2007Zagare, , 2014a and had different characteristics according to political and socio-economic contexts that will be discussed later when describing the historical occupation of the metropolitan area in relation to the Lower Delta. ...
... The settlements were unplanned, disperse and precarious, and access to the lands was difficult because of the lack of infrastructure. The State did not regulate the possession and distribution of the plots of the Delta, and at first, the lands were considered to be a non-productive natural beauty (Zagare, 2014a(Zagare, , p. 219, 2016c This law gave priority of sale to the occupants who had already established their houses on the islands and had cultivated them. According to Galafassi (1996, p. 6), during the 45 years while this law was valid, 55% of the islands were transferred to the private domain. ...
... As was previously described, the political and economic context of those years was characterized by structural changes such as a state reform, economic deregulation, monetary stabilization (convertibility), construction of mobility infrastructure, privatization of public services and new urban laws (Ciccolella, 2002;Ciccolella et al. , 2006; Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, 2010; Williamson, 1990;Zagare, 2014a). In light of this scenario, the withdrawal of the State as a territorial planning regulator encouraged foreign investors to finance urban (private) growth and change occupation patterns, leading to a new configuration of the space and the development of large urban projects. ...
Thesis
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The Paraná Delta is a large and heterogeneous territory that can be considered an extreme and particular case due to the dynamics that interact within this area. Nevertheless, many of the conflicts that can be found in this area replicate in other deltas around the world, which are subjected to pressures related to urban growth and climate change, within a context of uncertainty and unpredictability. Those pressures interact at multiple scales and temporalities, affecting the components of the systems, as well as the relations between them and with the environment. This complexity reveals the need for the society (including governments, institutions, civil organisations, academia, etc.) to enhance the adaptability of the system of the delta, in order to cope with changes without losing their substantial characteristics. This thesis is focused on the study of the complexity of self-organising processes that emerge in metropolitan areas located in (or near) delta territories, in order to link climate adaptation with urban development from an actor-oriented perspective. For that purpose, this research based on the understanding of the self-organising processes that emerge in urbanising deltas to design and implement a methodology that can be applied at the local level, to generate an impact at other scales. The method designed in this thesis also includes the development of scenarios in order to think about possible future events and reflect on the necessary policy and actions to make the system respond to changes in a more adaptive way. The scenarios, as well as all the indicators analysed along the process, are developed through participatory workshops, after an analysis of the actor-network of the area, and also of the local, provincial and national regulations.
... This change was also encouraged by the political and economic context of that decade, defined by structural changes such as state reform, economic deregulation and monetary stabilization through a currency board (convertibility), privatization of public services and new urban codes (Ciccolella, 2002;Ciccolella et al., 2006;AABA, 2010). In light of this scenario, the diminished of the role of the State encouraged private developers to finance and largely determine the morphology of the urban fabric and growth trends, leading to the development of private gated communities (neighbourhood with a closed perimeter, isolated from the rest of the urban fabric) (Zagare, 2014). Focused in the upper-middle and higher income groups, the success of these developments generated a displacement of population from the city of Buenos Aires to the suburbs. ...
... When all these events coincide in time and space, the outcome is disastrous. The drainage system of the urban fringe collapses due to the drainage blocking caused by the South Eastern currents, leading to floods and their negative consequences (Zagare, 2014). ...
... The result is a mosaic of large private (protected?) elevated areas and public (vulnerable) depressed zones. The first ones block the natural drainage of the lands increasing the vulnerability of the rest of the city, inhabited not only by the medium social class but also by the poorest sectors of the society, which are the less prepared for facing a disaster and recover from the loses (Zagare, 2014). ...
Article
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Worldwide, deltas host dense populations and are important centres of agricultural and industrial production, and economic activity. Many deltas are areas of great ecological importance as well, featuring wetlands of high and unique biodiversity. Deltas are vulnerable to changes by natural forces and human activities. Major drivers of change are population growth, economic development, climate change and subsidence.
... La ciudad de Buenos Aires fue fundada por los españoles (por primera vez en 1536 y posteriormente refundada en 1580) sobre las costas del río de la Plata. A pesar de no tener contacto directo con el delta, su ubicación estuvo en cierta manera influenciada por su cercanía al canal navegable del río Paraná, que era la ruta principal hacia Paraguay (Zagare, 2014). Décadas después, las islas del Delta Inferior fueron a menudo ocupadas por viajeros extranjeros que cultivaban frutas y practicaban la forestación (Galafassi, 1996;Sierra, 1967). ...
Article
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Chapter
Estudio comparativo y presentación del caso del Delta Inferior del Paraná y su relación con los procesos metropolitanos.
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Urbanized deltas can be considered as areas with a double complexity: they have to deal with the complexity of the delta, as the meeting of rivers and sea, and with the complexity of urban patterns, as a condition and result of economic, cultural and social life. In search of sustainable strategies, authorities and planners in different delta-areas are looking to the Netherlands, which has seemed to deal with this double complexity in a successful and sustainable way. However, instead of considering the Netherlands as an example which can be copied in other urbanized deltas, it is important to understand the Dutch delta as a result of two specific conditions: first, the natural dynamics of the delta itself, and second, the coincidence of the Dutch delta with the territory of the Dutch nation state. Moreover, fundamental discussions and reconsiderations are taking place concerning future policies and strategies for flood defence, water-management and urban development in the Netherlands. Instead of the adage fighting against the water, a new one working with nature is appearing. This change is not only important for future safety and urban development in the Netherlands itself, but might be relevant for other urbanized deltas as well
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The recognition of a subaqueous plain, a delta front and a prodelta, suggests that the "delta' extends beyond the external front of Barra del Indio, where the fluvial sediments reach the External Zone of the Rio de La Plata, up to Bahia de Samborombon. The delta is formed of two important stratigraphical units: a) basal or subdelta, which includes the Arenas Basales (white sands with organic matter) and Atalaya Formation (green sandy silts and silty clays with marine fossils), both of Holocene age (Last Deglacial Hemicycle); b) deltaic, which overlies the first one, and corresponds to Playa Honda Formation (silty sands and sandy clayey silts), of Recent age (Post Glacial). -from English summary
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Deltas are the “gifts” of rivers to the sea. They result from, and are molded by, interacting fluvial and marine forces. Since ancient times river deltas have been of fundamental importance to civilization. Owing to their early significance as agricultural lands, deltas received considerable attention from such scholars as Homer, Herodotus, Plato, and Aristotle. Today deltaic accumulations play a paramount role in accommodating the world’s energy needs: Ancient deltaic sediments provide source beds and reservoirs for a large fraction of the known petroleum reserves.
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