Map statistics of deforestation Paraguay rain forest

fire-cerro-cora.jpg

fire!!

The world is changing rapidly, and finally we have the technology to track it. Paraguay is experiencing rapid deforestation in the development of cattle ranches and soybean farms. The result is the highest rate of deforestation in the world. What does it mean to the rock art of Paraguay? Using the latest interactive maps from Google, we get an insight of the depth of the deforestation in the areas surrounding the rock art.

This is possible by a new interactive map created by Google and University of Maryland.  For me its amazing to be able to have this technology at our fingertips, something that would only be available to a selected few only a couple years ago! and now we can use this information to create plans to better preserve the 5,000 year old rock art.

This deforestation is usually caused by the practice of slash and burn agriculture by small rural workers, the campesinos. The campesinos will cut all the trees in a parcel of land, they will sell the trees and use the money to buy cattle. The forest now its a cattle ranch, where they will burn the cow pasture once a year to make it grow again.

From the google website:

"More than 650,000 Landsat satellite images taken between 2000 and 2012 were drawn on to create the map. By some estimates, it could have taken a lone computer 15 years to process that volume of data, but because of Google’s involvement it took just a few days, said Matthew Hansen, a professor of geographical sciences at the University of Maryland and the study’s lead author. Still, he said, even with its enormous processing power, Google’s servers broke a sweat.

“When they ran it, the lights dimmed,” Dr. Hansen said.

deforastation paraguay

Below are an image of where the rock art lives. (I choose not to put the detailed coordinates, as some locations are asked by the experts to remain a secret, as they are a prime target for vandals. )

 Yet this image gives a larger scope of the deforestation that we are dealing with when trying to save this ancient rock art. For example take a look at Cerro Cora National Park, where some of the rock art lives.

deforstation amambay

cerro cora fire

We have the larger picture now, but what does it mean on the ground level? In this from the field update we give you an idea. Not all the fires are caused by agriculture and ranching, some are caused by arson or natural occurrence, but do a lot of damage for the lack of funds of the authorities in charge. While filming some night scenes our volunteer crew spotted a fire within the boundaries of the Cerro Cora National Park, about half a mile from the rock art. They contacted the park rangers, but for lack of funds they were not able to respond at all. Earlier in the week, a past Secretary of Environmental Affairs put his own money to buy gas for the firefighters to travel to the nearest city to the National Park to put out a huge wild fire.

With no help in sight, and the fire quickly spreading into the "protected areas" our film crew risked their own skin to put this fire out using rudimentary tools they had at their disposal.

fire cerro cora

Deforestation brings many more problems than the possible loss of the ancient rock art. Health Experts in Paraguay explain that the loss of the forest habitat brakes the natural environment chain, bats lose their homes, and do not eat the mosquitoes , and  those same mosquitos then move to urban areas, bringing with them the deadly dengue that has created an epidemic in the Amambay area.

lone pole

We all must find a balance between economic progress and environmental conservation.

Specially along the hills where the rock art resides, that is in danger of being consumed by the fire of the cow pastures.

paw prints leafs stars abstract

 Why do we work so hard to conserve the rock art of Paraguay.  For me, is all about the the silent energy that emanates from the simple, but beautiful engravings. To conserve a message from our ancient past, a message that survived thousand of years, and who now in the last decades has been more in danger of being lost forever then in 5,000 years. They say we will never fully understand the message carved in the walls, but I believe we feel it deeply with our hearts.