Protecting the Atlantic Forest in Paraguay
The Atlantic Forest
The Atlantic Forest or Mata Atlântica is one of the world's major 'biodiversity hotspots' due to the high number of endemic species found there. It is home to nearly 1,000 different types of birds, including some found nowhere else in the world. It is also home to over 20,000 plant species, 40% of which are endemic.
This endangered eco-region is located on the eastern side of South America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean in Brazil and spreading inland to cover small parts of Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay. However, the once extensive Atlantic Forest is now reduced to a series of fragmented forest islands. This means that wildlife is increasingly threatened due to the loss of their rainforest habitat. The forests that do remain are surrounded by mono-culture plantations, mostly vast fields of soya, and housing developments. This severe deforestation has left less than 7% of the Atlantic Forest still standing.
Protecting the Atlantic Forest
The bid to conserve the Atlantic Forest has, so far, focused on protecting what is left in Brazil. However, less than 2% of the Paraguayan Atlantic Forest remains today. The World Land Trust, through local partners Guyra Paraguay, are doing everything possible to conserve what is left.
San Rafael: Atlantic Forest in Paraguay
The forests of San Rafael are considered to be the most important tract of remaining Atlantic Forest in Paraguay. But while San Rafael has National Park status, there is little active protection. San Rafael is still seriously threatened by encroaching agriculture, so the purchase and protection of key areas is critical to safeguard this wildlife haven.
Guyra Reta Reserve
Guyra Paraguay helped establish the San Rafael Conservation Alliance, and, since 2002, with support from WLT and WLT-US, they have worked to purchase and protect critical parcels of the Paraguayan Atlantic Forest. This includes the Guyra Reta Reserve which consists of over 8,000 acres of pristine Atlantic Forest now being protected with the help of WLT supporters.
Through its restoration ecology programme WLT has also been funding the rehabilitation and expansion of the Atlantic Forest within Paraguay. In 2006 WLT started a major tree planting initiative, which has enabled Guyra Paraguay to plant native tree species and encourage the natural regeneration of forest on degraded land surrounding the Guyra Reta Reserve.
Over 410 bird species have been recorded within San Rafael, including the Harpy Eagle, Blue-Winged Macaw, the Bare-Throated Bell-Bird (Paraguay’s national bird) and local flagship species, the Endangered Black-fronted Piping Guan.
To learn more about the Chaco/Pantanal project in Paraguay and how you can support it, visit the main project page: Saving the Paraguayan Landscapes »