Highlights, News

Special on Paraguayan Chaco reveals 8,932 ha of potentially illegal deforestation

Clearings in Paraguayan Chaco largely serve the country’s soy and cattle export markets

The latest Rapid Response Special on deforestation in the Paraguayan Chaco revealed 12,007 ha of deforestation in twelve selected cases between June 2019 and May 2020. Of these, 8,932 ha may have been illegal, i.e. without the appropriate environmental license, or in a natural forest conservation or protected area. Deforestation in the Chaco is largely driven by expanding cattle and soy area, absent deforestation commitments from key operating stakeholders, and loose law enforcement.

Several large and significant actors responsible for the clearings in the Chaco

The responsible actors for the clearings of natural forests in the twelve selected cases are mainly Brazilian nationals and companies, in addition to large Mennonite families. They include Agropecuária Moroti, a wholly owned subsidiary of publicly traded Brazilian farmland investor and soy producer BrasilAgro, and Cooperativa Chortizer, one of the three largest Mennonite cooperatives in Paraguay.

16 November 2019                                                                               29 May 2020

Figure 1. Clearing of 2,365 ha of natural forests in BrasilAgro’s farm Fazenda Marangatu y Udra
Source: European Union, contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data 2020, processed with EO Browser

None of the eight main beef exporters of Paraguay has a public policy to protect forests in the Chaco.  This includes the Mennonite cooperatives and Paraguay’s largest meat packing company Minerva, who together account for 95 percent of exports. While BrasilAgro continues to clear forests in Brazil and Paraguay, its main buyers of grain in 2019, Bunge, Cargill, Louis Dreyfus, and Amaggi, have zero-deforestation policies.

Innovative collaboration project between Aidenvironment, IUCN NL, and Paraguayan NGOs

Aidenvironment prepared this Special Paraguay report in collaboration between IUCN NL and several local environmental and legal NGOs. To uncover illegal clearings, we combined data on deforestation, ownership, and environmental licenses.

The complete report is available here

For more information, please contact Sarah Drost