An area of more than 286,000 hectares (706,420 acres) was deforested in the Chaco region in western Paraguay, 23 percent more than in the previous year, said environmental organization Guyra Paraguay in a report Jan. 16.
According to the group´s president, Alberto Yanosky, 42,900 hectares (106,000 acres) were converted into agricultural areas in December, compared with 33,200 hectares (82,000 acres) that were deforested in the previous month.
This region comprises 60 percent of Paraguayan land, and is part of the Great American Chaco, plains and forests, stretching 1.5 million square kilometers across Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil.
Of the four nations, of the total deforestation that occurred in December, 76 percent, occurred in Paraguay, 21 percent in Argentina and 2 percent in Bolivia. It was not reported how much occurred in Brazil.
He added that the rate in Paraguay was 1,057 hectares (2,610 acres) per day in December 2011, more than the 924 hectares (2,282 acres) per day in November.
“In the Paraguayan Chaco, the more than 14 million hectares (34.6 million acres) of forested land, provides sustenance for the traditional lifestyles of the indigenous communities, is home to a rich biodiversity and is a potential agent of economic development and food security for Paraguay and the world,” said Guyra Paraguay.
The organization blamed lax laws that fail to balance environmental protection with economic development. It recommended that the government consider restrictions on development in the region as well as incentives for activities that conserve forests, such as the carbon credit market.