The Environment Minister of Paraguay, Arq. Carlos A. Lopez Dose, has announced a dramatically innovative initiative to form a shared-management partnership with British conservation charity the World Land Trust. This remarkable management handover will protect 2,500,000 acres of endangered forests mostly in the northern Chaco of Paraguay and is testament to the World Land Trust's ability to expertly manage projects overseas with tact and diplomacy.
In 2005 the World Land Trust formed a partnership with Guyra Paraguay, one of Paraguay's foremost conservation NGOs and immediately embarked on a programme of land purchase to create a network of private nature reserves. Most of the land outside of Paraguay's National parks is privately owned, and the remaining forests are seriously threatened by the rapid expansion of agriculture, which in recent years has been driven by the demand for soya and biofuels.
The World Land Trust's partnership with Guyra Paraguay has proved incredibly successful and to date and WLT has provided US$725,000 for land purchase in Paraguay. This has resulted in Guyra Paraguay now owning and protecting reserves in the Atlantic Rainforests and grasslands of southern Paraguay, 70,000 acres of wetlands in the north east and over 10,000 acres of dry Chaco. It is a direct result of these activities that the Government of Paraguay has recognized the importance of wildlife heritage and has approached Guyra Paraguay and the World Land Trust to sign a shared management agreement to protect what is believed to be one of the largest protected areas to be managed by NGOs anywhere in the world. The World Land Trust's principal role is raising the funds for land purchase to enable the purchase of key tracts of land to strategically compliment the 2,500,000 acres and to raise additional funds for its protection.
Although the dry Chaco is a relatively hostile environment it is home to rare wildlife and is also inhabited by groups of indigenous Amerindians, some of which have remained in isolation, so remote is the area. Another objective of the shared management project is to protect the lands that these groups rely on from unwanted intrusion.
According to the World Land Trust's CEO, John Burton, "This is certainly the biggest challenge that the WLT has faced in its 20 year history, and I believe that it is vital that we rise to the challenge, to do as much as we can for the future of the world's wild places. We MUST save this wonderful habitat, and we must work with the people who live there."
*** John Burton is available for interview and would be pleased to discuss any points raised.
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