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Thu Jul 31, 2014, 02:00 PM

Green Going Gone: The Tragic Deforestation of the Chaco

Green Going Gone: The Tragic Deforestation of the Chaco

Monolithic agricultural companies are claiming they can practice sustainable farming in the heart of one of the world's most important wildernesses. The ravaged state of the Paraguayan Chaco forest is telling a different story.

[font size=1]Deforestation in Paraguay. [/font]

Survival International
By Christine MacDonald
July 28, 2014 11:50 AM ET

A converted garage in Asuncion, Paraguay, seems an unlikely headquarters for the crusade to save one of Earth's last great wilderness expanses. But in a cluttered and fluorescent-lit room, three geographic information systems (GIS) analysts are hunched over their computer screens searching satellite maps for signs of fresh deforestation in South America's Gran Chaco forest, doing the best they can. "The Chaco is one of the most unknown remaining wildernesses on our planet," says Alberto Yanosky, the activist in charge of those analysts. The problem though, is that "we're losing the Chaco faster than scientists can study it."

The Gran Chaco, which cuts across parts of Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil, is Latin America's second most important forest, behind only the Amazon in terms of size and biodiversity. While the Amazon is a lush tropical world of wide rivers and towering trees, the Chaco, located to the south, is a dry 250,000-square-mile area with some of the highest temperatures in the world and some of the most meager rainfall.

But while the Amazon has an institutional charity system fighting for its survival, hardly anyone outside of South America has heard of the Chaco. That PR void has allowed U.S.-based agribusiness giants Cargill Inc., Bunge Ltd. and Archer Daniels Midland Co. to aggressively expand in Paraguay with a minimum of international scrutiny or outcry. Sustainable business gurus praise those companies for having saved the Amazon, and the companies themselves say they've adopted conservation policies that prove it's possible to feed the world's exploding population without putting much more land into cultivation. In Paraguay, however, the opposite has occurred. The factory farming system has advanced across the country's most fertile areas. In the last decade alone, 2.5 million acres have been turned into soybean fields, displacing subsistence farmers and cattle barons alike. (Those with the wherewithal purchased cheaper land in the Chaco forest, part of the rush that has helped make the Chaco one of the world's top deforestation hot spots.)

Last year alone, the Gran Chaco lost 914 square miles of forest, the equivalent, according to Yanosky's organization, Guyra, of 29 cities the size of Buenos Aires. During the first five months of this year, 1,040 acres a little more than 1.6 square miles of forest a day were bulldozed and burned in the Paraguayan portion of the Chaco. GIS analyst Fernando Palacios, a boyish 29-year-old, says it's dispiriting to watch what's happening.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/green-going-gone-the-tragic-deforestation-of-the-chaco-20140728#ixzz394PcCUUw

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Reply Green Going Gone: The Tragic Deforestation of the Chaco (Original post)
Judi Lynn Jul 2014 OP
Judi Lynn Jul 2014 #1

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 02:14 PM

1. At least he said out loud what so many other greedy, dirtball conservative officials have always don

An opinion poll published in May, reported three-quarters of Paraguayans disapprove of the government's performance. No doubt much of this has to do with the rampant corruption that landed Paraguay at 150 of 177 countries on Transparency Internationals' Corruption Perceptions Index. But the country's shifting economy is clearly also to blame, as its agriculture-without-people boom is stoking social tensions. A fledgling revolutionary group, the Paraguayan People's Army, made headlines last spring after kidnapping the 16-year-old son of a prominent landowner in the north of the country. Peasants in the eastern agricultural belt, meanwhile, have protested the proliferating foreign-owned factory farms and the frequent fumigations that they say are forcing them to abandon the countryside, leaving it to the genetically modified soybeans that now cover more than 7.9 million acres of Paraguay's most fertile land.

Perhaps most troublingly, President Cartes during a speech welcoming the Brazilian National Industrial Confederation earlier this year urged visitors to [font size=6]"use and abuse Paraguay."[/font]

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