Paraguay moves closer towards zero net deforestation



Posted on 20 November 2008
The Atlantic Forest has extemely high biodiversity, but is also one of the most endangered rainforests on earth.
© WWF-Canon / Edward ParkerEnlarge
Asunción, Paraguay — Paraguay's Congress has today unanimously voted to extend the country's “Zero Deforestation Law” by another five years. The law, which came into force in December 2004 and was effective in slashing deforestation rates massively, was due to expire at end 2008.

Three commissions — Energy and Natural Resources, Agrarian Reform, and the Legislature Commission of the Senate — made strong presentations supporting extension of the law, including the degree of devastation of the Atlantic Forest, the lack of land use planning, the benefits the region is losing through deforestation i.e. biodiversity loss, siltation of water courses, pollution of the Guarani Aquifer, destruction of cultural traditions, and the disappearance of family farms, among others.  They also gave emphasis to the  importance of maintaining the remaining and highly threatened Atlantic Forest.

Until 2004 Paraguay registered the highest deforestation rate in the Americas and second in the world.  Nearly 7 million hectares of Atlantic Forest was lost to slash-and-burn for agricultural and ranching use over nearly four decades. This changed rapidly with the Land Conversion Moratorium for the Atlantic Forest of Paraguay, also called the “Zero Deforestation Law”.  However, this law was scheduled to expire in December 2008 if Paraguay's Legislature did not extend it.  Decades of deforestation and devastation cannot be recovered in just four years of moratorium. 

One of the main foci of the senate discussion was also how deforestation and degradation influence climatic changes and how much these changes can affect the agricultural and livestock production of the region. Deforestation over the last four decades has caused Paraguay to lose much of its important timber production, and making the country rapidly into a wood importer.

The Senate also acknowledged the success of reducing deforestation by close to 90% in just four years of the moratorium, and the support of national and international organizations in providing assistance in  monitoring implementation of this legislation. 

With this extension, the Government of Paraguay has once again honoured its commitment made at the CBD COP9 (in  Bonn, Germany) and at the IUCN World Congress (in Barcelona, Spain),  to support WWF's call for zero net deforestation by 2020.

Paraguay's Minister of the Environment has expressed his satisfaction with Congress's approval of this important law. He has committed to work towards including other regions of the country, such as the Chaco and Pantanal, in this Land Conversion Moratorium. 

There is though much to be done. WWF is working with the Government of Paraguay and local NGOs to implement financial and legal mechanisms such as Payments for Environmental Services (PES) and the Program of Conformance with the Forest Legislation (CFL), to truly achieve zero net deforestation in the country's Atlantic Forest.

For more information:
Lucy Aquino, Coordinator
WWF Paraguay Atlantic Forest Ecoregional Office
Tel: +595 21 300733
Email: laquino@conexion.com.py

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