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Paraguay makes headlines in Germany for its drug trade and barbecue charcoal. But few know about the sad remnant of forests that have an unprotected conservation status in Paraguay: They are cut down for marijuana and burnt to make barbecue charcoal. The impact on their own and the world's climate is devastating.

In several episodes we report on these connections between deforestation and its consequences in Paraguay.

Part 3: Drought catastrophe

In addition to deforestation caused by illegal logging and slash-and-burn agriculture, an extreme drought disaster with severe fires occurred in 2020. Because of the fires spreading throughout the country in forests and scrubland, Paraguay's Congress had declared a national state of emergency on 1 October 2020.

It is difficult to prove human activities as direct triggers of these fires. However, the causes of the drought are climate consequences and thus also homemade. Forests regulate the water balance and protect against erosion. As the largest carbon reservoir, they counteract the global greenhouse effect. Although only about seven million people live in Paraguay, greenhouse gas emissions are as high as in some industrialised countries. While energy production from fossil fuels is the biggest CO2 emitter in Europe, here it is fires. "Hot deforestation" releases greenhouse gases, while photosynthesis in intact forests converts carbon dioxide into oxygen.

Matthias Baumann from the Humboldt University in Berlin has studied the effects of deforestation on the climate in the Chaco. Between 1985 and 2013, an area slightly larger than Lower Saxony was deforested there. Around 250 gigatonnes of climate-damaging greenhouse gases were produced as a result.

Why Pro Cosara needs your support

We want to reforest the burnt areas quickly. We need to plant and nurture at least 1000 seedlings on every hectare of burnt forest area (30,000 hectares in total). Check out our profile page to learn more about our work.

Pro Cosara