News from 2022-05-12 / KfW Development Bank

Preserving Paraguay's forests

KfW supports the management of six protected areas in the Chaco biosphere reserve

The savannahs and dry forests of the Paraguayan part of the Chaco region are to be protected more effectively and deforestation halted. For this purpose and on behalf of the German government KfW is providing a grant of EUR 6 million. The project also benefits the local population, which uses the natural resources of the Chaco biosphere reserve. The project is being implemented by WWF Paraguay.

Green trees with blue skies and clouds
The natural resources of the Chaco region are increasingly threatened by agriculture, livestock farming and forest fires.

Northwestern Paraguay is sparsely populated. It’s no wonder: The hottest temperatures in South America prevail here. Up to 50 degrees are regularly measured. The area is part of the transnational Gran Chaco, which, with an area of about one million square kilometers, is the largest forest area in South America after the Amazon basin. The region is home to a wide variety of ecosystems: Savannas, shrublands, grasslands, wetlands and the largest dry forest in the world. These contribute to a unique biodiversity. In addition, the areas are ancestral habitats of indigenous people that live from the Chaco's natural resources.

But this unique ecoregion is under threat. As in many other regions of South America, deforestation continues to advance. Between 2000 and 2019, the total area of Chaco dry forest has decreased by more than 20%. Often, the cleared areas are used for agriculture and cattle ranching. Increasingly frequent forest fires are also damaging the ecosystem.

Three people sitting down on a table signing a paper
KfW Office Manager Adelheid Knäbel de Revello (right) at the signing of the financing contract with the Ministry of Environment & Sustainable Development and WWF in Asunción.

Modern technologies and improved management

To help protect the Chaco, part of the Paraguayan Chaco was declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 2005, which regulates the use of natural resources. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), KfW is now promoting the management of the six core areas of the biosphere reserve and strengthening the capacities of the Ministry of Environment & Sustainable Development so that it can better manage the protected areas. This includes, for example, investing in equipment and the development of management plans.

The local population is involved in the conservation of the valuable ecosystem. Alternative ways of generating income while avoiding unsustainable resource use are being developed with them. By protecting the forests, the natural livelihoods of the indigenous groups are preserved in the long term.

KfW is supporting Paraguay's Ministry of Environment & Sustainable Development in monitoring the vast expanses of Chaco using modern technologies, such as the strategic analysis of satellite images. This serves particularly to detect deforestation and forest fires at an early stage. The work of the park rangers will also be facilitated by modern technologies, such as the introduction of a smartphone app to document activities in the protected areas.

The project will be implemented by WWF Paraguay in close cooperation with the Paraguayan Ministry of Environment & Sustainable Development from 2022 to 2026. KfW's partner WWF Paraguay has already been active on the ground for a long time. The project will protect the livelihoods of the local population in the long term and contribute to climate protection.

SDG 15 - Life on Land | KfW Entwicklungsbank