Photo: Celine Frers

The South American Chaco has seen an increase in deforestation, pollution
and the expulsion of rural and indigenous populations.

A mid the never-ending demand for natural resources worldwide, the South American Chaco—the biggest continuous dry forest in the world and the second largest forest biome in South America—is under increasing pressure. In recent years, the South American Chaco has seen an increase in deforestation, pollution and the expulsion of indigenous populations and farmers. The exploitation of hydrocarbons and the expansion of cattle ranching and farming frontiers have not alleviated the structural poverty characteristic of the region. In fact, traditional communities that have lived harmoniously with the forest have been forced to abandon their land, while expansion of agribusiness increases environmental degradation.


What Avina Does for the South American Chaco

Avina and its allies work to transform the seeming impasse between conservation and production into a solution. The goal is to promote a new economy built around seeking a convergence of interests among leading actors in which indigenous and rural populations, social organizations, businesses and governments participate equally in sustainably managing the region’s shared assets: the forest, water and soil, among others.


These are some of the results we saw in 2012 in the South American Chaco:


Satellite Tracking to Prevent Illegal Deforestation
in Argentina

M onthly monitoring of land use throughout the South American Chaco—an operation led by Avina's ally, Guyrá Paraguay—is increasingly used by authorities to fight illegal deforestation. Consolidation of satellite tracking operations to monitor deforestation in the region began in 2012. Alerted by the Córdoba Environmental Forum, the Environment Department of Argentina’s Córdoba province used the tracking reports of Guyrá Paraguay to detect illegal deforestation in Minas province. The timely detection led to punishment of those responsible for the unauthorized deforestation. As a result of citizen oversight by the Environmental Forum, deforestation in the Córdoba region of the South American Chaco decreased monthly, from 3,302 hectares in June of 2012 to 85 hectares in January of 2013.

Satellite tracking in Paraguay and Bolivia has influenced government actions and served to guide public policies.


The Native Project―a collaborative effort which includes Avina―began releasing deforestation reports on the Argentine region of the South American Chaco based on data produced through the alliance between the Red Agroforestal Chaco Argentino (Agro-Forestry Network of the Argentina Chaco) and the Facultad de Agronomia de la Universidad de Buenos Aires (Agronomy School at the University of Buenos Aires). In the near future, this new technology will provide alerts even sooner by also detecting preparations for deforestation.


Adapting to Climate Change in Bolivia

Amid the threats brought on by climate change, Avina’s allies, Nativa Bolivia and Agro XXI, have developed a participatory methodology to strengthen the ability of communities to respond to the impacts of climate change, many already visible in the region.

The town of Villamontes, located in the Bolivian Chaco near Tarija, was the first place to create a pilot plan for adaptation to climate change.  The plan called for: the creation of a forum to strengthen governance through shared development goals; public investment targeted to citizens’ needs, especially of those most vulnerable; definition of innovation and cooperation priorities; and an alignment of local objectives to the global challenges.


Due to the success of this initiative, the approach is already being applied in four other municipalities of the South American Chaco, and nine towns in the Bolivian Amazon are planning to replicate it. More than 170 requests to recreate the methodology locally have been received from towns in five countries. Moreover, municipal associations have expressed interest in adopting the program in Bolivia, with the potential to reach an additional 300 towns.


Our main allies and co-
investors for this Opportunity in Development in 2012 were: 

  • Redes Chaco (Chaco Networks): Gaining visibility for issues crucial to the eco-region and for creating participatory governance.
  • Nativo, Bosques y su Gente (Native Forests and Their People): A bi-national (Chile-Argentina) initiative aimed at reducing the rates of deforestation and degradation of native forests through citizen participation, teaching how to sustainably use and manage forests, and improving opportunities to market the goods and services they provide.
  • Guyrá Paraguay: Tracking deforestation, fires and floods in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay with the goal of promoting sustainable production practices, involving businesses in the protection of biodiversity and creating incentives for forest conservation.
  • Movimiento Agua y Juventud (Water and Youth Movement): Providing access to clean water for 100,000 families in the South American Chaco.
  • Fundación Nativa (Nativa Foundation): Supporting Chaco towns by designing and implementing climate change adaptation plans. 
  • Banco de Bosques (Bank of Forests): Mobilizing the population to value the Chaco forests and to create the La Fidelidad National Park.
  • Red de Monitoreo Pilcomayo (Pilcomayo Tracking Network): Strengthening the disaster alert and prevention system, and generating data for sustainable management in these three Chaco nations.