Deforestation and environmental governance in Paraguay

Paraguay is one of the countries with the most accelerated deforestation rates worldwide. Especially in the dry northern part called Chaco vast amounts of areas where cleared in recent years. The impressive deforestation patterns as observed by satellite imagery show that probably large agribusiness engages in a planned clearance of the Chaco. You can have a look at these patterns in the Hansen data-set here:

Screenshot from 2015-04-29 21:43:46

With weak institutions and most of the land hold in private hands, it is doubtful that Paraguay will be able to curb this development in the near future. Furthermore corruption puts a burden on preserving natural vegetation even inside indigenous reserves. This recent article in Spanish informs about the arrest of Ruben Quesnel former employee at the Paraguayan institute of indigenous people – Instituto Paraguayo del Indígena (INDI). Quesnel is responsible for the sellout of 25.000 hectares of indigenous land and was sentenced to six years in prison:

As environmental governance improves in Brazil, there are rumours that large actors from Brazilian Agribusiness change their strategy to occupy land in Paraguay that is cheaper and less controlled by environmental agencies. Market integration within the Mercosur furthermore facilitates foreign investment. The expansion of soy-bean production in Paraguay contributed to the increase in economic growth within recent years.

The spatial reorganization of land-clearance is also discussed under the terminology of leakage effect and is a very important topic when discussing land-use change on a global scale. Future research on this topic is required to make more reliable statements about inter-regional and cross-border effects of environmental policies to control deforestation.