Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Survival International and the Chaco

12 April, 2011 - 15:19 -- John Burton

Where have Survival International been? Yesterday (11 April) they announced that 4000 hectares of forest in the Chaco have been destroyed in territory occupied by Ayoreo Indians.

We have been posting news items and information about the destruction of the Chaco for over two years, and the rate of deforestation is averaging 10,000-15,000 hectares every month.

It's not only the Ayoreo that are affected; the destruction of the Chaco is one of the worst environmental disasters of the 21st century, affecting several indigenous groups, as well as some of the world’s rarest wildlife. The Chaco is one of the world's most fragile habitats , and is being destroyed while the world watches.

The government of Paraguay is fairly impotent, lacking the resources to enforce what little protection there is; the Chaco is a huge area, with hardly any roads, where a 'wild west'  mentality still exists among many of the ranch owners. But the biggest threat comes from Brazilians and other outsiders buying up the land, and bulldozing it for cattle ranches. The WLT working with local NGO Guyra Paraguay are  among the few groups doing anything.  The WLT has helped fund five rangers -- to cover two and a half million acres (1 million hectares), an area the size of East Anglia.

£5000 a year will add another ranger, and every little really does help.

More articles on Indigenous people: about World Land Trust's Keepers of the Wild appeal:


Submitted by Rick Elstein on


I’m a fan of WLT, and of Survival International, and I have read your news feeds for a while, but I have to say this seems like a bizarre attack.

A quick browse of the Survival website shows that they’ve been reporting on the Chaco for nearly ten years (to your two). Here’s the page I found listing the 50 or so news items they’ve published:

I’m sure having more rangers is a very good thing, but the pressure that Survival is bringing to bear by continually getting the issue of Chaco deforestation into the news is also extremely valuable.

What a very disappointing cheap shot.


Submitted by John Burton on

Not meant to be an attack, but there has been significantly more than 4000 deforested in the Chaco, and the issue is not actually that it was illegal, but probably legally deforested — not that that makes it any better. The real issue is that we need to actually do something. We have managed to help the purchase some land in the Chaco, and helped fund rangers. Reportuing is not what is needed now, it is action.

Submitted by Rick Elstein on

Thanks for responding John. But… when the time for keeping the situation our planet faces in the headlines is over, let’s just give up the fight and move on.


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