With an area twice as big as that of California, the Gran Chaco rainforest is undoubtedly South America's second-largest forest, just a place behind the Amazon rainforest. The Gran Chaco rainforest is the continent's last part, and it is threatened by several types of agricultural developments in order to produce soy and beef. Almost two-third part of the Gran Chaco rainforest lies in Argentina and it falls under Latin America’s most stressed ecoregion. The forest is known to harbor an incredibly rich ecosystem helping our earth in filtering the air while providing shelter to different types of unique vegetations or wildlife including 500 species of birds, 3400 types of plant species, 120 reptiles, 150 types of mammals, and another 100 different types of amphibians.
The floral characteristics of Chaco are varied due to its large geographical span. The most dominant type of vegetative structure includes canopy trees, xerophytic deciduous forest, shrub layer, sub-canopy, and herbaceous layer. Furthermore, the Chaco ecosystems include wetlands, riverine forests, savannas, and even cactus stands as well.
Gran Chaco In Danger
Most of Chaco’s woodland has now been replaced by ranches and croplands over the past few decades. In recent days, it is disappearing a lot faster. For example, between the years 2010 to 2012, Bolivia, Argentina, and Paraguay shared almost equal halves of the Chaco- lost its native vegetation at a rate of approximately one acre per minute. It is even projected that by the year-end of 2030, the Gran Chaco rainforest would be losing millions of acres of natural vegetation.
Deforestation of Gran Chaco
Agricultural expansion has led to rapid soil degradation, deforestation, and biodiversity loss. Almost 25 percent of the Chaco’s part in Argentina has now been cleared for agricultural purposes and even much of this loss has taken place over the past two decades. Furthermore, the rapid expansion of Filadelfia and other neighboring Mennonite colonies during the 1980s has led to rapid salinization, deforestation, and even desertification. Currently, the Mennonite leaders are implementing several sustainable land-use practices. Clearing of forests in Paraguay is also associated with the trans-Chaco highway. However, efforts are now being initiated in order to link adjacent conservational areas along with the Bolivian Chaco.
In the Argentinian part, deforestation of the Chaco amounted to almost 250000 acres per year between the years 2001 to 2007. According to some local NGOs, on an average 2800 acres of forest are being cleared every day. The soy plantation and other agricultural factors are the main reason behind eliminating the forest. Several indigenous communities are now losing their land just for the sake of agribusinesses.
Taking control over the deforestation of Gran Chaco has been very much challenging in nature. Since 2007, several forest laws and regulations are implemented on the local government in order to take control and regulate the cutting of woods. However, several other research states that the local government is unable to enact the laws in many protected zones. States are immensely experiencing an increase in deforestation especially after these forest laws are passed.