The Gran Chaco is a dry forest covering more than 1 million square kilometers in Argentina (59%), Brazil (5%), Bolivia (13%) and Paraguay (23%). Though the Chaco extends over 60% of Paraguay only 3% of the nation’s human population lives there, and many are indigenous groups highly dependent on the forest, or commercial ranchers with huge land holdings. Deforestation for soy production in the Atlantic forest led the government of Brazil to pass a law in 2004 banning the conversation of forest for crop and livestock production An unexpected outcomes of this law was a shift in agricultural clearing pressure across the border to the Chaco of Paraguay. Today Paraguay is one of the top six exporters of beef in the work adding US$ 1.3 billion to the national economy.
In 2010, WCS started working in the Chaco of Paraguay, to protect wildlife in the last contiguous blocks of forest remaining in the country, 60% of which is privately owned. Building trusting relationships is always a slow and complicated process so it was until 2014 that seven large landowners agreed to work actively with WCS to develop and implement ranch management plans designed to maintain their ranching business and at the same time conserve their upland and riverbank forests and the wildlife they support.