The loss of Atlantic Forest in Paraguay threat protected areas, according BirdLife

Researchs in Paraguay has revealed a dramatic decline in the country’s Atlantic Forest in the last 50 years.

Landsat satellite images reveal that nearly two thirds of the forest cover has been lost, leaving many of the region’s protected areas isolated and vulnerable to further degradation and deforestation.

High rates of habitat destruction constitute the principal threat to biological diversity. The steady fragmentation of natural landscapes has been underway for many centuries, however, the pace of habitat destruction has accelerated and now threatens some of the most species-rich regions on earth such as South America’s Atlantic Forest.

Home to an estimated 20,000 vascular plant species, 40 percent of which are endemic, the Atlantic Forest of south-east Brazil, north-east Argentina and eastern Paraguay is one of the most biologically diverse forests in the world.

Although only a small percentage of the Atlantic Forest Ecoregion occurs in Paraguay, the area is disproportionately rich in biodiversity, hosting around 10,000 plant species.

The satellite images reveal that the deforestation has been driven by the competing actions of recent settlers, keen to acquire small patches of forest for farmland, and by private land owners, who have converted large blocks of forest for agriculture, often motivated by a fear that if left forested the land would be expropriated by settlers.

Deforestation has left many of Paraguay’s protected areas as isolated ecological ‘islands’ within a highly modified and degraded landscape. These remnant habitat patches may be too small and too isolated to adequately safeguard complete biological communities.

Paraguay’s protected areas support numerous threatened species, including the Endangered Black-fronted Piping-Guan Pipile jacutinga and Marsh Seedeater Sporophila palustris, and it is vital that actions are taken that adequately safeguard them.

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