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      Biosphere Reserve Information



  General Description   This Biosphere Reserve covers a large area in the northern part of the boreal El Chaco system in Paraguay, with ecologically diverse dry forest ecosystems, which are under great pressure to be converted into grazing lands. The Biosphere Reserve covers a series of ecosystems ranging from forest areas, matorral, savannahs and lacustrine and riparian ecosystems, both of permanent and temporary character. It contains representative ecosystems for the conservation of the regional Gran Chaco system in terms of protected habitat types, varied transition types between ecosystems, and a gradient from semi-arid to humid systems and temporary flooded areas. El Chaco Biosphere Reserve could become an essential part of a potential large-scale transboundary biosphere reserve of the Gran Chaco region with other countries Argentina and Bolivia.

The area of El Chaco is biophysically the most diverse of the Gran Chaco system. It combines a high biodiversity with well-conserved ecosystems and habitats of great importance that are indispensable for the establishment of biological corridors with the neighbouring countries. The Biosphere Reserve hosts a high floristic diversity with almost 5,000 different species, of which 486 are wild relatives of cultivated species. The fauna is influenced by the Amazonian and Inner Atlantic Forests, but still includes a high degree of endemism, especially in mammals but also in reptiles, birds, insects and arthropods. Numerous threatened species find refuge in El Chaco such as the guanaco (Lama guanicoe), jaguar (Panthera onca), tapir (Tapirus terrestris), and the giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus).

The Biosphere Reserve has six core areas, all protected areas: the Río Negro National Park, Cerro Cabrera - Timane Nature Reserve, Médanos del Chaco National Park, Cerro Chovoreca Natural Monument, Defensores del Chaco National Park, and Teniente Agripino Enciso National Park. The buffer zone and transition area are made up of private land, military territories; land managed by the Instituto de Bienestar Rural, and territories of indigenous communities.

El Chaco has important cultural values and includes parts of the traditional territories of three ethnic groups: the Ayoreo, Guarani-Ñandeva and Ishir. The indigenous communities have had a low impact on the environment (small periodic burning, subsistence agriculture) and sustain practices of hunting and harvesting, combined with the culture of summer orchards. The Biosphere Reserve designation helps to protect local indigenous communities’ homeland and cultural identity. The population of El Chaco, which totals some 4,700 people, also includes Creole and Mennonitas groups.The creation of the Biosphere Reserve constitutes a first effort to promote the management of the use of natural resources in the north of the Paraguayan El Chaco. The management plan of the Biosphere Reserve is in preparation.
  Major ecosystem type   Dry or deciduous tropical forests
  Major habitats & land cover types   Dry forests on old alluvial plains; Forests on poorly drained grounds; Forests on sandy grounds; Transitional forests; Savannahs on sandy grounds; dry forests of the old alluvial plains; Riverine forests; Neotropical aquatic vegetation
  Location   20º03’09”S; 66º09’08”W
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   7,492,250
  Core area(s)   1,624,795
  Buffer zone(s)   894,298
  Transition area(s) when given   4,973,157
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   +78 to +900
  Year designated   2005
  Administrative authorities   Secretaría del Ambiente
  Brief description   The core areas are established to protect biodiversity and the range of different natural processes that currently are protected within the boundaries of the legally established Áreas Silvestres Protegidas in the Biosphere Reserve. The buffer zones are established to constitute corridors of biodiversity, with emphasis on the flagship species for conservation, especially the jaguar (Panthera onca). The buffer zones constitute a barrier to protect the core areas from the development activities in the transition area. The transition area is established to promote the sustainable use and management of natural resources in harmony with indigenous cultures and needs.

Project on the environmental system of El Chaco - inventorying, evaluation and recommendations for the protection of natural areas; Development of the knowledge base related to the biophysical resources and natural processes of El Chaco, relevant for the management of the territory; Projects for the protection of the "Ayoreo-Totobiegosode", including the recovery, legalization and return of the land to these native people; Project to safeguard the area of "Amotocodie", that is of great importance for native communities; Initiative for the protection of wild areas of Paraguay and the strategy and action plan for biodiversity on the socioeconomic conditions and alternatives in the area; Prospecting and explorations in the search for hydrocarbons; Climatic monitoring; Project of ecorregional evaluation of the great American Chaco with social, economic, political, legal, and cultural components, related to the conservation of the biodiversity in El Chaco.
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   Abiotic factors, air quality, air temperature, climate, drought, erosion, geology, geomorphology, global change, groundwater, habitat, hydrology, meteorology, modelling, monitoring/methodologies, nutrients, siltation/sedimentation, soil, topography.
  Biodiversity   Afforestation/Reforestation, alien/invasive/exotic/introduced species, amphibians, arid/semi-arid, autoecology/synecology, biodiversity, biogeography, biology, birds, breeding/reproduction, community studies/communities, conservation, degraded areas, desertification, dune systems, ecology, ecosystem assessment, ecosystem functioning/ecosystem structure, ecotone, endemic species, ethology, evapotranspiration, evolutionary studies/palaeoecology/evolution, fauna, fires/fire ecology, fishes, flora, forest systems, freshwater/inland water, genetic resources, indicators, invertebrates/insects/spiders, lagoon systems, mammals, migrating populations/migration, modelling, monitoring/methodologies, natural medicinal products, natural resources, perturbations/resilience/vulnerability, pests/diseases, phenology, phytosociology/succession, plants, population genetics/population dynamics, productivity, rare/endangered/threatened species, reptiles, restoration/rehabilitation/redevelopment, species inventorying/inventory, sub-tropical and temperate rainforest/sub-tropical forest, taxonomy, tropical dry forest, tropical grassland and savanna systems, vegetation studies/plant cover, wetlands, wildlife.
  Socio-economic   Agriculture/Production systems, agroforestry, anthropological studies/anthropology, archaeology/paleontology, bioprospecting, capacity building, control and monitoring of illegal activities, cottage industry/artisanal industry, cultural aspects, demography, economic studies, economically important species, energy production systems/alternative energy, firewood cutting/harvesting, fishery/fisheries, forestry, human health, human migration/population exodus, hunting, indicators, indicators of sustainability, indigenous people, livelihood measures, livestock and related impacts/overgrazing, local participation, mining, modelling, monitoring methodologies, natural hazards, non-timber forest products/ntfp, pastoralism/pastoralists/grazing, people-nature relations/man/nature, poverty, quality economies, recreation, resource use, role of women/gender, sacred sites, small business initiatives, social/socio-economic aspects, stakeholders' interests, tourism, traditional practices/ethnology/traditional knowledge, transport.
  Integrated monitoring   Biogeochemistry, carrying capacity/sustainability, conflict, ecosystem approach, education and public awareness, environmental change, geographic information system/gis, impact and risk studies/environmental impact, indicators, infrastructure, institutional and legal aspects, integrated studies/interdisciplinaty, interdisciplinary studies, land tenure, land use/land cover, landscape inventorying/monitoring, management issues, mapping, modelling, monitoring/methodologies, planning and zoning measures/zonation, policy issues, remote sensing, rural systems, sustainable development/sustainable use, transboundary/transfrontiers, watershed studies/monitoring.

Last updated: 07/04/2006

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