Great news for Argentina’s Dry Chaco With 5,411-hectare Forest Expansion SEARCH NEWS

An aerial photography of the Dry Chaco forest, Argentina. Credit: Juan/FBA

The extraordinary landscape of one of the world’s most unique and least understood forests, the Dry Chaco of Argentina. Credit: Juan/FBA

We are delighted to announce that our partner Fundación Biodiversidad Argentina (FBA) has completed a 5,411-hectare (13,000-acre) land purchase within the Dry Chaco region of Argentina. We would like to say a huge thank you to all those who contributed to our Buy an Acre programme and made this major achievement possible.

Buy an Acre supporters have enabled our partner FBA to purchase 5,411 hectares (13,370 acres) of Dry Chaco forest within central Argentina. With this land purchased, FBA have greatly increased the protection of Dry Chaco to the north of the Traslasierra National Park. This major achievement gives a lifeline for many of Argentina’s most threatened species, such as the Chacoan Peccary (Catagonus wagneri).

A photography of Argentina's Dry Chaco forest with mountains in the background. Credit: Juan/FBA

The Dry Chaco forests of Argentina are among the most unique and least understood forests on Earth. Now, thanks to our Buy an Acre supporters, 5,411 hectares (13,000 acres) are under FBA’s protection. Credit: Juan/FBA

Overlooked and under-protected: The Dry Chaco

The Córdoba Province of central Argentina is home to the Dry Chaco, one of the world’s most threatened, unique, and little-known forests. Dry Chaco is one of those habitat types that defies a simple description, sometimes resembling closed forest, sometimes savannah.

But wherever you look, it is rich in wildlife, with a staggering 3,400 plant species and 150 mammal species calling these unique scrubby forests home. Many of these are highly threatened and found nowhere else, even within Argentina. For example, its shrubs and sandy grasses are home for two Critically Endangered rodents, the Chalchalero Viscacha Rat (Tympanoctomys loschalchalerosorum) and Berg’s Tuco-tuco (Ctenomys bergi). Meanwhile, its canopy of White Quebracho (Aspidosperma quebracho-blanco) and Red Quebracho (Schinopsis lorentzii) trees are the favoured perch of several highly threatened birds. These range from the small, such as the brightly coloured Yellow Cardinal (Gubernatrix cristata), to one of South America’s largest birds of prey: the Chaco Eagle (Buteogallus coronatus). Both these species are IUCN classified as Endangered and rapidly declining due to habitat loss.

A photograph of one of South America’s largest birds of prey and yet little known, the Chaco Eagle. Credit: FBA

One of South America’s largest birds of prey and yet little known, the Chaco Eagle. Credit: FBA

Despite the critical importance of this region, Dry Chaco is rapidly disappearing. Between 2000 and 2019, 9.5 million hectares (23.5 million acres) of South America’s Dry Chaco was lost. In fact, only 5% of Argentina’s Dry Chaco remains, victim to deforestation, oil exploration, and agricultural conversion. Crucially, Dry Chaco is not only being lost but also fragmented.

Bridging the gaps

We have been working with FBA since 2021 to increase the protection of this fragile region. Together with the generosity of our Buy an Acre supporters, we are now turning the story around for the Dry Chaco’s most precious and threatened wildlife, including the Chacoan Peccary.

A photograph of 6 Chacoan Peccaries in Argentina's Dry Chaco landscape.

Highly threatened, the IUCN estimates that, without enhanced protection, the population of Chacoan Peccaries could halve within the next three generations. Credit: Marianela Velilla/Guyra Paraguay

Closely resembling a wild boar, the Chacoan Peccary is a fascinating animal with a remarkable history. First discovered from fossils, it was thought extinct until recognised by Western scientists in 1971 (although locals – who know it by the name tagua – had long known of its presence). Today, it is classified as Endangered, numbering only 2,500 individuals in the wild, and split into isolated groups surrounded by a sea of agricultural land. Now with this land purchase, we can ensure that it faces a remarkable future.

A view over Argentina's Dry Chaco. Credit: Juan/FBA

This land purchase is a major step towards the increased protection of the Dry Chaco forest, a precious ecosystem that – despite the appearance of photos like these – has declined by 95% in Argentina. Credit: Juan/FBA

The site so far

Having purchased this site, FBA is now carrying out camera trap monitoring to better understand which species live here. Results thus far are very promising, showing higher numbers of Chacoan Peccary than of its two competitors: feral boars and the Collared Peccary (Dicotyles tajacu). FBA have also started tracking the region’s Guanaco (Lama guanicoe) to better understand this mammal’s travel routes and thus areas for future protection. The next steps will be to continue expanding this critically important protected area and further enhance its on-the-ground protection.

We are extremely grateful for everyone who contributed to protecting Argentina’s Dry Chaco through our Buy an Acre programme. You can learn more about our partner FBA and what they do, here, and you can support our Buy an Acre programme here.

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