TOWARD ZERO NET DEFORESTATION
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 in close to 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 the Legislature of Paraguay did not extend it. Decades of deforestation and devastation cannot be recovered in just four years of moratorium.
One of the main focuses of the senate discussion was also how deforestation and degradation influence climatic changes and how much this changes can affect the agricultural and livestock production of the region. Moreover, in the accumulated deforestation that occurred during the last four decades Paraguay has lost much of its important timber production, and in fact is becoming a wood importer.
The Senate also acknowledged the success of reducing the deforestation by close to 90% in just four years of moratorium, and the great support of National and International Organizations in providing assistance for the monitoring of the implementation of this legislation.
Once again the Government of Paraguay has honored its commitment made at the CBD COP9 (in Bonn, Germany) and in the World Congress of the IUCN (in Barcelona, Spain), to support WWF in its initiative of “Zero Net Deforestation by 2020”, and has extended the Zero Deforestation Law for five more years. The Minister of the Environment has expressed his satisfaction in the approval by Congress of this important law and has committed to work toward the inclusion of other regions of the country, such as the Chaco and Pantanal in this Land Conversion Moratorium legislation.
However there is much to be done: the WWF network 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 a Zero Net Deforestation in the Atlantic Forest in Paraguay.
The WWF local and global teams working together are making a difference in this very threatened eco-region.