Deforestation in Bolivia’s Gran Chaco – March 19th, 2009
The Gran Chaco, is a sparsely populated, hot and semi-arid lowland region, of the Río de la Plata basin, divided between eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, northern Argentina and a portion of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. This land is sometimes called the Chaco Plain.
The ecosystems of the Gran Chaco are unique, and were little understood by scientists until recent years. These ecosystems are slowly being destroyed by civilization with the introduction of cattle, burning of vegetation and irresponsible agricultural decisions.
The first close-up shows deforestation in progress, which can be identified as lighter green trails through the green forest. The second close-up shows fields that have already been planted after the area was deforested, near rivers carrying brown sediments.
The area close to the mountains in the west (visible in the lower left quadrant of the main image) is called the Alto Chaco, or Dry Chaco. It is very dry and sparsely vegetated, continuing eastward to the Chaco Boreal where less arid conditions combined with favorable soil characteristics permit a higher growth thorntree seasonably dry forest.
Even further to the East, higher rainfall combined with improperly drained lowland soils lead to the Bajo Chaco, or Humid Chaco, a more open savanna vegetation. This consists of palm trees, quebracho trees and tropical high grass fractions with a wealth of insects.