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Assessment of rates of deforestation classes in the Paraguayan Chaco (Great South American Chaco) with comments on the vulnerability of forests fragments to climate change

Abstract

A large portion of the Occidental Region of Paraguay consists of a semi-arid territory with vegetation adapted to the features of this region. For just over a decade, a process of intense deforestation has resulted from the expansion of mechanized farming, carried out without any form of land management or planning; this has led to the fragmentation of the forests in this region. This study has taken satellite imagery from 1975, 1990, 2000 and 2007 with the purpose of determining the average size of the fragments and the rate of forest discontinuity; the results of this multi-temporal imagery analysis show that (a) in some areas of the Central Chaco, the forest matrix was transformed principally into cropped areas; (b) the majority of the fragments are isolated from one other; and (c) the areas mostly covered by forests are in the north-northeastern and northwestern areas and this is mainly as a result of a greater concentration of protected areas. In conclusion, the vulnerability of the vegetation formations increases with the fragmentation process, to which we should add an increased frequency of fires, a reduced resilience and homeostasis of the vegetation formations; thus these are highly exposed to climate change factors. It is imperative that the forest landscapes be restored, through the implementation biological corridors, to ensure the continuity of the remaining forests.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Juana De Egea, for translating the original Spanish version of the article into English.

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Correspondence to María Fátima Mereles.

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This article is part of a Special Issue on “Climate change and adaptation in tropical basins” edited by Pierre Girard, Craig Hutton, and Jean-Phillipe Boulanger.

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Mereles, M.F., Rodas, O. Assessment of rates of deforestation classes in the Paraguayan Chaco (Great South American Chaco) with comments on the vulnerability of forests fragments to climate change. Climatic Change 127, 55–71 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-014-1256-3

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Keywords

  • Forest Fragment
  • Eichhornia Crassipes
  • Invasive Alien Species
  • Border Effect
  • Habitat Reduction