WCS shows that sustainable ranching can halt deforestation in Paraguay

WCS shows that sustainable ranching can halt deforestation in Paraguay


In 2014 WCS started a pilot program with 7 large landowners in the Chaco Region of Western Paraguay. Each agreed to ranch management plans designed to reduce deforestation within the 409 km2 of forests on their lands. Analysis of forest clearing using satellite images showed that only 4.8 km2 of forest was cleared each year between 2014 and 2016, effectively halving the national deforestation rate of 2% per year.


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.


Protecting Habitat IconHABITAT: WCS work with ranchers in the Chaco of Paraguay has reduced deforestation to zero on 6 of the 7 ranches, and cut the deforestation rate to 1% per year (half the national average) on the seventh ranch.

Effective Governance IconGOVERNANCE: Success of this demonstration program in the first two years of operation, shows that a private-public partnership between ranchers and an NGO can dramatically reduce deforestation in the Chaco of Paraguay through the adoption of business and forest friendly ranch management plans.


 MAP:  WCS activity sites in Paraguay.

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