The forest the world forget

Have you heard of the Gran Chaco? Somehow the Gran Chaco has remained off our radar across the world, always overshadowed by the Amazon. Covering a vast area one and a half times the size of California – half in Argentina, a third in Paraguay and the remainder in Bolivia – the gargantuan scale of the Chaco shelters an astounding array of unique wildlife: 3,400 plant species, 500 bird species, 150 mammals, 120 reptiles and 100 amphibians. ⁠

In this beautiful space roam rare giant anteaters, the screaming hairy armadillo, tapirs and toucans; all under threat. The yaguareté, the South American jaguar, is the most endangered there. There are only 250 examples of this incredible animal still on the prowl in the country.⁠

But the Gran Chaco hasn’t received the attention it deserves despite its deforestation rate being one of the highest in the world. According to Nasa’s Earth Observatory, 20% of the Gran Chaco’s forest, 55,000 square miles – an area larger than England – was lost between 1985 and 2016. ⁠

The massive clearing can be seen in satellite images on different websites including Global Forest Watch.⁠

Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia continue allowing the expansion of agriculture in this virgin forest because they are dependent on the income from soya exports. The companies they allow in – large agriculture businesses – operate with often far less scrutiny than the Amazon or than what any of us would desire. We need international attention on this and we need wealthy countries to be able to assist lower-income countries to protect the natural forests we already have – this is a far better strategy than taking everything down in an old, complex ecosystem designed to help life thrive, and planting rows of the same trees.⁠

“The destruction of the Chaco in Paraguay is the first major environmental disaster of the 21st century. The Gran Chaco is one of the world’s last remaining great wildernesses.” – John Andrew Burton, founder, World Land Trust⁠

Source: The Guardian