Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Paraguay’s bird reserve set for destruction

27 October, 2010 - 12:02 -- John Burton

Conservation group shouts out against government’s betrayal, as heavy machinery moves into Asunción Bay.

Asuncion Bay

Asunción bay before the waterfront development began

The destruction of Asunción Bay, in Paraguay’s capital, is an unprecedented betrayal by the government that’s left local conservation group and World Land Trust (WLT) project partner, Guyra Paraguay, reeling from shock.  Teeming with 280 known bird species, the bay is a vital migratory stopover, and a designated Important Bird Area (IBA); it was legally declared a Reserve by government officials in 2005.

Just five years on, it is on the verge of  being destroyed as part of a new waterfront project development. Alberto Yanosky, Guyra Paraguay’s CEO, said that when he had voiced support for the project he stressed that it must be carried out in a less destructive manner. All he wants is for simple steps to be taken which would severely limit the devastation, such as taking sand from the Paraguay River rather than the shore. Taking sand from the shore will be disastrous for migrating shorebirds such as the Threatened Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis). His view is that currently the project doesn’t respect the environment and it doesn’t respect the law.

This domestic betrayal has been met with international outrage and bewilderment. Paraguayan ministers have previously prided themselves on their commitment to environmental issues, yet are now actively ignoring the principles established by the Ministry of the Environment (SEAM). Simon Barnes, WLT Council Member and journalist for The Times, wrote in his weekly environment column:  “The country works desperately hard for democratic and transparent government – and that is what makes the Asunción Bay disaster such a shock.

Speaking from his own experience working with WLT’s project partners, Guyra Paraguay, Simon said: “Guyra is full of good people, brave underdogs doing important work to help a developing country develop – and to do so for long-term good rather than short-term profit.”

Yet despite international support for Guyra Paraguay from WLT, BirdLife International and others, the very same Paraguayan officials that backed the declaration of Asunción Bay as an IBA and reserve have fallen silent, and are dong nothing, at present, to stop this destruction.

Guyra Paraguay continues their struggle to protect Asunción Bay.

More information

Visit the Guyra Paraguay website to learn more about their work in Asunción Bay.

Find out more about WLT's work with Guyra Paraguay and how you can help protect Paraguay's habitats on the WLT Paraguay project pages

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