Restoring the Upper Parana Atlantic Forest in Paraguay

April 14, 2016

80% of Paraguay's forests have been lost in the past 50 years, but today the country is looking to change this reality in the Upper Parana region.

Ranked among the WWF’s 200 eco-regions of global importance, a single hectare of the Upper Parana Atlantic Forest can house up to 450 species of native tree. But at the same time the forest also ranks among the world’s most threatened rainforests – 80% of the forest has disappeared in the last 50 years.

The Paraguay Biodiversidad initiative looks to change this reality. Since 2010, the project – with funds from the Global Environment Facility and executed by ITAIPU Binacional with support from the World Bank – has worked to boost conservation in the region. Sail with us across the Itaipú Binacional reservoir and take a look at the conservation works to reconnect the forest.


Native woodland takes over an artificially planted pine forest

World Bank/ Mary Stokes

Today just 200 million hectares of Atlantic Forest remain, but fragmentation of the woodland means that less than half of this area is still productive. The remainder has been divided in patches which are too small to sustain themselves. This project looks to connect these patches and build biodiversity corridors, which now extend over some 36,000 hectares of forest in Paraguay.

To date, over 23,600 hectares of woodland are now protected within private reserves and Tatí Yupí is one of them. Incorporating over 2,245 hectares of woodland to the south of the reservoir, you can already see how the forest is recovering in the photo above. After being felled, cleared and then planted with pine trees by a previous land-owner, the native forest is already taking back the area


Woodlands like these are vital to protecting the area’s water catchment. Along with the reservoir, pools like the one below provide habitat for a diverse array of fish and amphibians species, the vast majority of which are endemic to the region.  

What’s more butterflies now abound, which reflects the health of the ecosystem. Over 2,000 species have been registered throughout the forest. 


Left: A butterfly rests on a helmet. Right: Waterfalls offer vital environmental services throughout the forest. 

Over 14,000 people living in the area, including 55 indigenous communities, have already benefitted from the forest’s recovery. The cultivation of Yerba Maté, the creation of tree nurseries and honey production provide not only an income but also demonstrate that keeping the forest standing is more valuable than its price as timber.