Paraguay: Rancher Rejects Plea from Ayoreo to Stop Chaco Deforestation

A Brazilian rancher, Marcelo Bastos Ferraz, has rejected a plea from members of the Ayoreo indigenous community to stop cutting down the Chaco forest in which they live near the Paraguay-Bolivia border.

Ferraz met with Ayoreo representatives and Paraguayan Environment Secretary Cristina Molinos yesterday, less than two months after his company, Yaguarete Pora S.A, was given a licence to clear forest on its 73,000 hectares in the Chaco, despite it being within a UNESCO biosphere reserve and home to the Ayoreo.

As Paraguay’s last uncontacted indigenous tribe, the Ayoreo are highly vulnerable to disease from outsiders, as well as the destruction of the forest they depend on to live.

At the meeting, Molinos, who has received international criticism for not protecting the Ayoreo, said there was nothing she could do to return the land to them.

Recently, a study by the University of Maryland revealed that Paraguay’s Chaco forest has the world’s highest rate of deforestation.

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