Photo: AVINAPhoto: AVINAPhoto: AVINA


The South American Chaco is the biggest continuous dry forest in the world and one of the largest ecosystems in the region, second only to the Amazon. It is a region of rich social and environmental diversity with large reserves of water, energy, and arable land. However, the region struggles between extractive exploitation of raw materials for production to meet growing global demand and the preservation of its natural resources and traditional peoples’ way of life.

The eco-region of the South American Chaco faces a unique set of problems and challenges such as: marginalization from the centers of political power, poverty of the rural population, the rural and indigenous populations’ progressive urbanization, and a predatory model of natural resource exploitation. Even though these countries have legislation that protects natural resources, the Chaco forest continues to suffer a high rate of deforestation and degradation. Furthermore, traditional inhabitants are being forced to abandon their lands.

Avina identifies opportunity

During the last ten years, Avina and its allies have identified and supported organizational and productive solutions that are not only sustainable, but also demonstrate the economic viability of preserving and producing in the region. They have also supported the formation and collaboration of international networks in the South American Chaco.

Thanks to these advances, today it is possible to create spaces and dynamics that generate proactive convergence of stakeholders’ interests in the region, ensuring respect for the rights of the people of the South American Chaco and the emergence of a greener, more inclusive and responsible economy.

Avina and its allies’ strategy for action

The South American Chaco is one of the few areas in the world where it is possible to expand the agricultural frontier and produce more food for a growing world population. Driven by the need to

protect threatened biodiversity and the lifestyle of its inhabitants, both dwellers and key players of the South American Chaco need to align their interests when choosing a common destiny.


Chaco NETWORKS, Network of Organizations of the South American Chaco

With whom: Network of Small and Medium Size Producers of Tri-boundary Chaco, Chaco Educators Network, Organizations of Pilcomayo River Monitoring, South American Chaco Communicators Network, and other Chaco networks and organizations.

What for:To achieve visibility of vital issues and collective actions in the South American Chaco, allowing the generation of good governance.

Resources: As of now, Avina has invested more than USD 75,000 along with Chaco Networks.

Location: The entire South American Chaco

Duration: Since 2009.

More information:

Native Alliance – Forests and Their People

With whom: The Association of Forest Engineers for the Native Forest (AIFBN), the Department of Social Action of the Archdiocese of Temuco (DAS), the Forest National Corporation (CONAF), the Firewood Certification Corporation (CCL), the Argentine Chaco Agroforestry Network (REDAF), and the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA).

What for: To reduce rates of deforestation and degradation of native forests in Chile and Argentina; design and implement a

satellite system to foster citizen monitoring of degradation and deforestation; develop and promote national policies for management and conservation of native forests; implement a program of sustainable management of native forests in partnership with small producers in both countries; create a National System of Certification for Products of the Native Forest in Argentina following the Chilean National System of Wood Certification; and uphold the value of environmental services for native forests.

Resources:€ 3.074.485, mainly funded by the European Union (€ 2.455.000). Projected Avina contribution: € 165,000.

Location: South of Chile and the Argentine Chaco.

Duration: January 2011 to December 2015

More information:

Monitoring Changes in Land Use in the South American Chaco

With whom: Guyrá Paraguay.

What for: Monitoring deforestation, fires and floods taking place in the Argentine, Bolivian, Brazilian and Paraguayan Chaco.

Resources: An investment of USD 22,000 by Avina.

Location: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay.

Duration: January 2010 to December 2011.

More information:


Making visible the opportunities and challenges of the eco-region in national and global agendas.

Building a regional platform with relevant information for the management of the eco-region and the exchange of knowledge.

Promoting the political, economic and social inclusion of indigenous and rural communities, and ensuring the full protection of their rights.


Some achievements with our allies


Defense of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Following a favorable ruling that revoked authorizations for clearing land in the province of Salta and demanded legislation requiring studies of aggregated environmental impact, the indigenous Chaco communities of Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia continue to work on creating awareness of their rights and problems. In 2010, during the Week of Indigenous Peoples in Buenos Aires, an agreement was reached with the Argentine Supreme Court in which representatives of the indigenous population and the

President of Argentina agreed to a system of direct consultation in cases affecting indigenous rights in more than one jurisdiction.

Challenges Regarding Entrepreneurship in the South American Chaco

The Argentine Institute of Corporate Social Responsibility —in collaboration with other organizations of the Chaco region and the support of Avina and the Church World Service— published research indicating challenges for entrepreneurship in the South American Chaco, while identifying productive practices for a greener, more inclusive and responsible economy.

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Datos Claves

  1. The South American Chaco covers 1,066,000 km² comprising vast areas of Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and a small portion of Brazil.

  2. The main rivers of La Plata (Paraná, Paraguay, Pilcomayo and Bermejo) cover the South American Chaco and, within its subsoil, hide extensive fresh water (Guarani and Toba-Yrenda aquifers) and hydrocarbon reserves. However, many Chaco inhabitants continue to lack access to water and energy.

  3. The original inhabitants of the region —Ayoreo, Tuffs, Pilagas, Guarani, Matacos and other indigenous peoples— have developed cultures closely associated with the characteristics of the Chaco, taking advantage of its wealth while respecting the fragility of its habitat. To date, more than 7,000,000 people live in the South American Chaco.

  4. According to the results of satellite monitoring, in 2010 more than 240,000 hectares of the Chaco forest were cleared, reaching the highest rate of 1,129 ha/day during the last quarter of the year.

  5. The main threats to biodiversity in the region are the expansion of the agricultural frontier, fires, the exploitation of hydrocarbons and the construction of dams and roads.

  6. Jaguars, tapirs, guazunchos, giant armadillos, giant anteaters, peccaries, howler monkeys and ocelots are some of the animal species inhabiting the South American Chaco and in danger of extinction.

  7. International networks of social, indigenous and farming organizations collaborate for a more sustainable management of the eco-region, trying to overcome the apparent dilemma between production and preservation.

    Sources: Eco-regional Assessment of the South American Chaco, Atlas of the South American Chaco, Guyrá Paraguay

  8. More than 700 farmers, businessmen, indigenous peoples, regional citizens, academics, journalists and government leaders met in 2010 at the South American Chaco World Summit to design a sustainable development agenda for the region.