Protecting the Forests of the Gran Chaco
Halting deforestation through sustainable production and sourcing in South America's second-largest forest.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is working to halt the deforestation generated by soy and beef production in South America’s second largest forest mass and embed conservation throughout the production chain.
The Gran Chaco, two thirds of which lies in Argentina (130 million acres), is one of the most stressed eco-regions in Latin America. The Chaco’s massive forests harbor incredibly rich ecosystems that help the planet mitigate climate change whilst sheltering unique vegetation and wildlife including 3,400 plant species, 500 bird species, 150 mammals, 120 reptiles and some 100 amphibians. As their natural habitat is being destroyed, many of these species are in danger of disappearing, such as the giant anteater, the armadillo and the tapir.
Agricultural expansion and variations in climate have led to rapid deforestation, soil degradation and biodiversity loss. Twenty-five percent of the Gran Chaco in Argentina has been cleared for agriculture, and much of this loss has taken place in the last 20 years. TNC is working to halt the deforestation generated by soy and beef production in Argentina’s Gran Chaco by embedding conservation throughout the supply chains that deliver food to the world. With local partners such as the Collaboration for Forests and Agriculture (CFA), we are protecting tropical and sub-tropical forest ecosystems in the Gran Chaco by ensuring these key commodities are sourced only from deforestation-free areas.
Many factors have contributed to turning South America’s tropical dry forests and savannas into major agricultural expansion frontiers, particularly regarding soybean and beef production. They include rising agricultural commodity prices, an increasing integration of South American countries into world markets, favorable climatic conditions, the availability of cheap land and labor, as well as increasing forest protection in the Amazon.
TNC is also protecting 1.2 million acres of the Argentine Gran Chaco through Green Growth Compacts, a unique partnership that brings together the private and public sectors. We design and implement production practices that protect forests and mitigate climate change. As a leading partner in the Compact, TNC finds solutions that meet both human development and conservation targets in the Chaco.