San Rafael is located at the heart of Paraguay’s most important remaining tract of Atlantic Forest. The area is part of the highly threatened and fragmented Upper Parana Atlantic Forest, which spans the borders of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil.
San Rafael had been designated a national park in 1992 but remained protected on paper only, with 55 different private landowners who had not been consulted on the park’s creation and with heavy encroachment continuing every year.
and its partners working in San Rafael have put in place a bold plan to protect this treasure, including purchasing and consolidating the most important forested properties. Among the results to date is the purchase of six parcels of key forested land that now form the privately owned and managed San Rafael Conservation Area. Global Conservation Fund (GCF) support enabled the purchase of two of the parcels totaling 1,283 hectares.
The 6,700 hectares of the San Rafael Conservation Area protect dozens of unique and globally threatened species as well as the upper watershed of the Tebicuary River, one of the larger tributaries of the Paraguay River. San Rafael is also important for the survival of the Mbyá-Guaraní culture. An estimated 2,000 Mbyá-Guaraní survive within San Rafael through a combination of small-scale agriculture with traditional hunting and gathering of natural resources.
GCF is now supporting the development and capitalization of the San Rafael Fund for Biodiversity Conservation, which will be managed by Guyra Paraguay to cover the costs of protecting this important area for the long term.