Changes to the land use of the Gran Chaco Paraguayan

There was a total deforestation of 502,308 hectares in the Gran Chaco Region of South America during 2013, equivalent to a rate of 1,376 hectares per day. This rate of deforestation was 7 per cent lower than in 2012 but was still higher than in 2010 and 2011.

The loss of woodland in the whole of the Chaco during 2013 took place on average at the rate of 57.33 hectares per hour or one hectare per minute. Of the total deforestation, Paraguay accounted for the largest amount with 236,869 hectares, followed by Argentina with 222,475 hectares, and Bolivia with 42,963 hectares.

The monthly loss of forest cover throughout 2013 displayed maximum and monthly variation typically found in the Gran Chaco, with an observed maximum rate in October of 64,949 hectares, equivalent to 2,095 hectares per day, and a minimum rate  in May of 13,714 hectares, equivalent to 442 hectares per day. The minimum rates may possibly be distorted by the greater presence of cloud cover on the satellite imagery during those months.

In Paraguay, the largest part of the Chaco affected, deforestation was concentrated in the Department of Alto Paraguay and especially in the Department of Boquerón, which registered the highest rates of deforestation in the whole of the Gran Chaco for the second successive year.

The rate of deforestation at the municipal level was very varied. However, the area of land use change was by far the highest in the Municipality of Mariscal Estigarribia, Department of Boquerón, in Paraguay. It was higher here than anywhere else for the second successive year, with a total deforested area of 104,496 hectares in 2013. Mariscal Estigarribia was followed at a long distance by the Municipality of Fuerte Olimpo, Department of Alto Paraguay, also in Paraguay, with a total deforested area of 36,374 hectares. The third and fourth highest rates of deforestation by local municipal area were also in Paraguay – namely Bahía Negra and Filadelfia.

In the Municipality of Bahía Negra, Department of Alto Paraguay, deforested areas and newly opened trails were observed in the Cerro Cabrera Timane Nature Reserve, where the best preserved Chaco woodlands in the country are located, and which had been free of deforestation up to 2011. The first evidence of deforestation was noted here in 2012 and the process of separation and timber felling has been intensifying from then right up to the present day.

This rapid deforestation is now threatening the physical connectivity between the Cerro Cabrera Timane Nature Reserve and the Médanos del Chaco and Defensores del Chaco National Parks. It is noteworthy that a total deforestation of 74,117 hectares was registered in the Chaco Biosphere Reserve, distributed throughout the whole territory of the biosphere reserve.

In 2013 the largest number of heat foci were identified in August and September. In Paraguay the peak number of heat foci was registered in September (15,791). In terms of the density of heat foci throughout 2013 as a whole, the area of greatest prevalence was in the central region of the Department of Alto Paraguay, in Paraguay.

Source | Asociación Guyra Paraguay