Report from John Burton, CEO of the World Land Trust (WLT), on his recent visit to Paraguay.
"In November I made a follow up visit to Paraguay. The purpose of the visit was to meet with the New Minister of Environment and discuss the way forward with the management of the three national parks in the Chaco. For the first time in over 60 years, there was a complete change of government, on the positive side, this is a clear demonstration of a new fully democratic era, but the downside is that the dramatic changes will take some time to stabilize, and conservation issues are not the top priority for most of the government, and the people of Paraguay are anxious for major reforms."
"The new Minister of Environment, Sr Jose Luis Cassaccia, fully endorsed the agreement between SEAM (the Ministry of Environment), Guyra Paraguay [WLT's project partners in Paraguay /ed.] and the World Land Trust signed earlier in the year, and the Ministry was happy to adopt the draft Management Plan drawn up by Guyra. However, there are serious problems confronting the Chaco, with deforestation occurring in many areas, and problems over financing the protection of the National Parks. When I visited the Chaco in the summer I was able to see the infrastructure funded by the EU and other agencies – including excellent quality buildings for guards. Unfortunately funding for paying the guards ran out in September, and there is a serious crisis for the management of the park, which can only be solved with outside help. Then World Land Trust is currently considering how we can best support this difficult period, but to keep the national parks with a minimum level of staff, around $150,000 is needed for the next 12 months."