Parts of this ecoregion are so thick with vegetation that locals have dubbed it El Impenetrable.
The region encompasses the northern Paraná River and its Flooded Savannas ecoregion and extends north into central Paraguay.
Bogs and other wetlands, grasslands, savannas, and gallery forests come together here in a mosaic of habitats.
Special Features Special Features.
In this ecoregion, moist and flooded grassy savannas dotted with palm trees and thorny thickets grow alongside gallery forests, which line the numerous riverbanks. The great variety in habitat type combines with a humid tropical/subtropical climate to produce a wealth of plants and animals. This is the southern limit for many tropical species, including certain species of macaws and monkeys. It remains a haven for wildlife because of its sheer impenetrability by humans.
That is why the sandy soil left after land in the forest is cleared is only good for producing one or two harvests of soy, the star crop that has displaced other crops, like cotton, which used to provide local indigenous people with seasonal employment.
"But the soil is so poor that only two harvests are possible," the head of Greenpeace Argentina’s forest campaign, Hernán Giardini, told IPS.
Satellite images show areas that have been turned into desert, as well as slashes in the forest where the trees have been felled for makeshift airstrips, some of which are still littered by the remains of abandoned broken-down aircraft. The landing strips are used for smuggling drugs and contraband cigarettes, say local residents.
The destruction of the forest has not only caused harm to the environment, but to local inhabitants as well, according to both human rights groups and the Chaco provincial government of Jorge Capitanich, who took office in December and has declared a health, food, educational and environmental emergency.