In this article, renowned M.Sc. Biologist and researcher at the FACEN faculty of National University of Asunción, Andrea Weiler, highlights the importance of preserving the Paraguayan Chaco and how Quadriz and FACEN are working together to save its most vulnerable species.
The Paraguayan Chaco is an astonishingly rich biodiversity. Quadriz and FACEN’s study has found that more than 86% of the animal species in the Chaco can be found in the area covered by Quadriz’ REDD+ Corazón Verde del Chaco project, which covers 32,000 hectares (79,000 acres) of critical Chaco forest.
But this region is in peril. The fast pace of land use change has caused large-scale loss of forest in one of the world’s most important carbon sinks. Current rates of forest loss is amongst the highest in the world. This is a direct threat to many animals and ecology including critically endangered species such as jaguars.
For the past year, Quadriz has been working with leading biologist and researcher Andrea Weiler at the globally respected FACEN of National University of Asunción, to monitor and protect the animals within the area as part of Quadriz’ high-impact carbon projects. The joint monitoring has revealed a true biodiversity hotspot and highlighted the importance of keeping the forest in tact.
Jaguars, Armadillos and Anteaters: Monitoring Endangered Biodiversity in the Corazón Verde del Chaco
Quadriz and FACEN’s collaboration has unearthed rich biodiversity in the Corazón Verde region of the Chaco forest, and underlined the importance of protecting the homes of large mammals that require large territories. Using strategically-placed trap cameras in trees or bushes, Quadriz has captured rare images of jaguars, giant armadillos and tapir anteaters.
During the day these motion-sensitive cameras take colour photographs and during the night the trap cameras capture images in black and white, as the project uses trap cameras with a black flash, to ensure the least disruption on the behaviour of the biodiversity.
“In the Corazón Verde del Chaco we have found great biodiversity,” said Weiler. “More than 86% of the species that inhabit the Chaco are present in the project area, which is very important. We have also registered species that are on lists with a threat or danger of extinction, For example, we have registered vulnerable species such as the giant anteater, the tapir, the giant armadillo, as well as the jaguar – which is nationally registered ascritically endangered.”
“The jaguar in Paraguay is in critical danger of extinction. It is a species that has suffered the consequences of an accelerated change in land use where much of the forest mass of the country has been lost. In the eastern region of Paraguay, particularly in the Atlantic forest, 95% of the Atlantic forest is lost and that means the almost total disappearance of the jaguar in this eco-region. The importance of conserving the pristine habitats with good forest cover greatly helps guarantee the continued existence of the jaguar,” said Weiler.
The importance of protecting the biodiversity of the Chaco
Quadriz is committed to protecting the jaguar by preserving its habitat. Jaguars require large areas territory, with a large male needing between 300 to 500 km² as home range. These areas in the Chaco contain rich carbon sinks, which must also remain in tact to avoid planet-heating carbon escaping into the atmosphere. Aside from Quadriz’ REDD+ carbon projects, the organisation is working closely with FACEN on continued biodiversity monitoring to understand the baseline health of the region’s wildlife.
As part of this, Quadriz’ team have been a key funder and the driving force behind the “We Are Jaguar” campaign. The campaign is a citizen collective based in the National University of Asunción that promotes the conservation of the species through art, monitoring, education and awareness talks.
This biodiversity monitoring that FACEN and Andrea Weiler is carrying out with Quadriz in Corazón Verde del Chaco started with the intention of creating a baseline in order to gain knowledge of the biodiversity of the location and it is intended to continue over time with periodic monitoring to see more specific behaviour of certain animal populations that are of interest or importance within the area of the project. These could be endangered, vulnerable or endemic species.
“Projects like this, that permit the permanence of biodiversity in the long-term, can be crucial in the future so that biodiversity from these core sites can return to conquer their natural environments once their conditions are favourable,” said Weiler.
How REDD+ can help protect the Chaco and provide economic benefits
The jaguar in Paraguay is critically endangered. It is a species that has suffered the consequences of an accelerated change in land use where much of the forest mass of the country has been lost.
Projects like Quadriz’ REDD+ carbon project can help keep the forest an oasis for endangered species like the jaguar, and provide additional positive benefits for the biodiversity and local economy, under the Climate Community and Biodiversity Standard certification.
Though current land use in the Chaco is focused on clearing the forest for value and production, REDD+ projects provide an economic alternative, by putting a price on the forest and unlocking the value of the carbon and the wildlife in the region to create local jobs, generate Verified Carbon Units, and retain irreplaceable wildlife. Among the economic benefits the project achieves is income for people as forest guards, training and employment for community members.