Defending the Chaco
Protected areas in the Northern Paraguay:
Management Agreement with the Paraguayan Government
Working in partnership for conservation
In 2008 the World Land Trust embarked on an innovative agreement to conserve vast areas in northern Paraguay in partnership with local project partners Guyra Paraguay and the Ministry of the Environment, SEAM.
This tri-partite agreement gives shared responsibility for three of Paraguay’s key Protected Areas; Defensores del Chaco National Park, Río Negro National Park and Cerro Chovoreca Natural Monument. Together these reserves equal over 2.5 million acres and conserve a significant portion of wildlife habitat in northern Paraguay.
Whilst the reserves will remain under ownership of the Paraguayan Government, Guyra Paraguay is able to assist by using its expertise in protecting and managing large reserves. The role of WLT is to use our capacity as a fundraising organisation, to secure financial support to enable Guyra and SEAM to protect these national treasures.
Protecting over 2.5 million acres of wildlife habitat
Defensores del Chaco National Park
1,927,380 acres (780,000 ha)
Species Protected: Puma, Jaguar, Lowland Tapir, White Lipped Peccary, Collared Peccary, Night monkey, Giant Armadillo, Capped Heron, Whistling Heron, Brown Tinamou, Quebracho Crested Tinamou.
Designated as a National Park in 1975, this vast area protects the heart of the Grand Chaco. It contains vegetation and wildlife typical of the larger area, and importantly is at the scale to enable protection of viable populations of numerous important plant and animal species. The vegetation is adapted to the dry climate, with mainly low forests and scrub-like bushes, including many species of cactus and the Quebracho, or ‘Drunken Tree’, which stores water in its bulbous trunk.
At the centre of the National Park lies Cerro Leon, a unique formation of hills covering over 40km and including Paraguay's second highest peak at around 600m high. This site is of particular importance to the local indigenous people and of key interest for tourists.
Indigenous Ayoreo people live inside and use the National Park, including those who live a traditional lifestyle in voluntary isolation from the outside world. For the Ayoreo people the protection of Defensores del Chaco National Park is critical for them to continue their way of life.
Infrastructure within the National Park includes guest accommodation, a Biological Station and the main base for park rangers. The World Land Trust is helping raise funds to support the employment of the ranger team and the upkeep of the buildings which it is hoped will bring in a sustainable income through visiting researchers and tourists, which will in turn support the management of this national treasure.
Cerro Chovoreca Natural Monument
250,488 acres (100,953 ha)
Species protected: many of the same species as Defensores del Chaco N.P. (above), including several species of felines, armadillos and the Giant Anteater.
Cerro Chovoreca Natural Monument protects an important wildlife habitat that varies slightly from the typical Grand Chaco within which it lies. Cerro Chovoreca has a reddish, shallow sandy soil which is more characteristic of the eastern region of Paraguay. Predominant trees include the White Quebracho, Palo Santo and Palo Borracho.
However, it also contains beautiful flowing tree species, such as white silk floss tree (Chorisia insignis) and Paraguay’s National Tree, the Lapacho (Tabebuia species) which either flowers pink, yellow or white.
This protected area is a critical site for the conservation of an Endangered tree known in Paraguay as the Clover Tree (Amburana cearensis). This large tree is severely threatened by habitat loss and is also selectively logged for its timber. Regeneration is poor when adequate management is not in place, so Cerro Chovoreca is critical for safeguarding the future of this species.
Río Negro National Park
305,883 acres (123,789 ha)
Species protected: Jaguar, Pampas Deer, Marsh Deer, Southern Spectacled Caiman, Capybara, Giant Otter, Wood Stork and Greater Rhea
The Río Negro National Park in the north eastern corner of Paraguay is a RAMSAR site, due to its global importance as a threatened wetland habitat. Like the WLT supported Chaco-Pantanal Reserve, the Río Negro National Park is on the frontier of the Pantanal and the Chaco, creating a unique and important wildlife habitat.
The area is considered a world centre for floral genetic diversity and is also critically important for many aquatic bird species, which stop here in large numbers as part of their migration from all over the Americas. The Pantanal, most of which occurs in neighbouring Brazil, is in fact the richest wetland in the world for birds, with over 450 species having been recorded.
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