PARQUE NACIONAL SAN RAFAEL
The Atlantic Forest of southern South America is one of the five most rapidly disappearing habitat types on earth. This, coupled with an extraordinary degree of endemism amongst the species that inhabit it led Conservation International to describe the conservation of this unique habitat as of "critical importance for global biodiversity".
San Rafael also counts on a substantial area of another seriously threatened habitat found only in southern Paraguay and northern Argentina, the Mesopotamian Flooded Grasslands, further increasing the importance of this unique and globally-important reserve. Drainage for agriculture has permanently altered the eco-system of these grasslands over much of their former range, but their conservation in the San Rafael area has enabled the continued survival of the large number of threatened species that depend on this fast-disappearing habitat type.
The Atlantic Forest formerly stretched over much of southern Brazil, eastern Paraguay and extreme north-eastern Argentina, but due to the expansion of agriculture less than 7% of the original forest cover remains, and much of that is fragmented or degraded. The Paraguayan Atlantic forest is of particular importance because it is of a lowland type known as "Alto Paraná Lowland Atlantic Forest (BAAPA - Bosque Atlántico del Alto Paraná), the most threatened of the forest types within the Atlantic Forest biome. Home to a unique community of under-studied animals and plants that exist nowhere else on earth, the rapid disappearance of the Paraguayan forest is one of the greatest tragedies the planet has ever faced, yet while Amazonia regularly makes headlines the world over, the Atlantic forest has disappeared quietly.
San Rafael "National Park" at c70,000ha is the largest remaining block of pristine Atlantic forest remaining in Paraguay, but also its most threatened. The red soils on which Atlantic forest grows are the most fertile for agriculture and due to a mixture of greed and lack of proper education there is increasing pressure for the forest to be replaced by soya fields in compliance with the "production is progress" governmental slogan. With the aim to educate as to the ecological importance of the forest for the eco-system of the whole area, and to consolidate the conservation of this globally-important reserve, Pro Cosara was established in 1997.
In 2007, with the continued existence of the reserve still not assured Pro Cosara established ECOSARA Estación Ecologica de San Rafael, with the stated aim to not only provide a scientific basis to conservationist claims as to the unique value of the reserve, but to bring its plight to world attention. With the help of the website FAUNA Paraguay.com, and the large number of volunteers, donors and researchers who have joined the cause, it is hoped that the tide of public opinion can be changed and that the inhabitants of the San Rafael area will come to realise the value of the ecological treasure that is their home and fight to ensure that future generations may also benefit from it.
Use the menu to the left to navigate around this section of the page and find out more about San Rafael and why it is imperative that the conservation of the reserve be consolidated. Below is a map of San Rafael, reproduced courtesy of Alberto Esquivel.
Designed by Paul Smith 2007. This website is copyrighted by law.
Material contained herewith may not be used without the prior written permission of FAUNA Paraguay, Pro Cosara and ECOSARA.
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and may not be used for any other purpose without prior written permission from FAUNA Paraguay, Pro Cosara and ECOSARA.