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Chaco forest: characteristics, flora and fauna

The Gran Chaco Americano is, after the Amazon, the largest wooded region in the American continent. Such is its extension that it covers southern Bolivia, western Paraguay, much of northern Argentina and even a small fraction of Brazil. Establishing the focus on the forests of the Argentine Chaco region , it is worth mentioning that they are the subject of numerous investigations both because of the great biological and cultural diversity that it presents, and because of the continuous threats that degrade the ecosystems found in this area.

Therefore, from AgroCorrn we will tell you in detail not only the particularities of the Chaco forest, its characteristics, flora and fauna , but also the environmental problems it must deal with and its state of conservation.

Characteristics of the Chaco forest

Before starting with the characteristics, we will first mention the location of the Argentine Chaco forest . To locate ourselves well in the area where we can find this great forest biome, we will mention which provinces the Argentine Chaco forest covers . Among them are: Formosa, Chaco, east of Santiago del Estero, north of Santa Fe, Córdoba, San Luis, east of Salta, Tucumán, Catamarca and La Rioja and west of Corrientes.

Regarding the characteristics of the Chaco forest , we can summarize the following:

  • With regard to the relief of the Chaco forest , it presents a marked heterogeneity that allows the region to be differentiated into two sub-regions: the dry Chaco to the west, defined as a sedimentary plain, shaped by the rivers that cross the region and the humid Chaco described as a plain with gentle slopes that form raised ridges with respect to the floodplain surroundings.
  • As for the climate in the Chaco forest , it is characterized by being warm subtropical. However, within the Chaco region there are differences in rainfall that, precisely, give rise to the name of the two aforementioned sub-regions: Dry Chaco with rainfall varying between 500 to 700 mm per year, and humid Chaco with values ​​between 750 to 1300 mm per year.
  • Finally, referring to the soil of the Chaco forest , in general it has high contents of sand and clay and low percentages of organic matter.

Flora of the Chaco forest

The Chaco forest actually has a great variety of environments, among which we can find: xerophilous forests or dry forests , savannas , jungles or gallery forests , palm groves, estuaries, lagoons and more. Due to this, the vegetation of the Chaco forest is extremely diverse. Let’s see here some of the most characteristic species of plants of the Chaco forest :

  • Quebrachos ( Schinopsis spp . And Aspidosperma spp .)
  • Carob trees ( Prosopis spp .)
  • Palo santo ( Bulnesia sarmientoi )
  • Mistol ( Ziziphus mistol )
  • Chañar ( Geoffroea decorticans )
  • Red timbo ( Enterolobium contortisiliquum )
  • Ombú ( Phytolacca dioica )
  • Thatch ( Panicum prionitis )
  • Cattails ( Schoenoplectus californicus )

Chaco forest fauna

Due to the marked difference that exists between the dry Chaco and the humid Chaco, not all the animals of the Chaco forest are found in both subregions. For example, the giant armadillo ( Priodontes maximus ) is exclusive to the dry Chaco, while those animals related to bodies of water, such as the nutria ( Myocastor coypus ), the alligators ( Caiman spp. ), The river wolf ( Lontra longicaudis ) and others are typical of the humid Chaco.

However, there are species of fauna that are distributed in both subregions, some of them are:

Environmental problems of the Chaco forest

Like the vast majority of the world’s ecosystems, the Argentine Chaco forest is exposed to numerous environmental problems that lead to the destruction of ecosystems and the loss of species. What are the main environmental problems of the Chaco forest ?

  • To begin with, the advance of the agricultural-livestock frontier, commercial forestry and urbanization are the main reasons for the high rates of deforestation in the Chaco forest . Consequently, clearing causes loss and fragmentation of habitat that increases the vulnerability of fauna to illegal hunters and road accidents, two other adversities that local biodiversity must face. Here you can learn more about Deforestation in Argentina: causes and consequences .
  • In addition, fire is another environmental problem that affects the Chaco forest. Most of the fires are intentional, however, the Chaco region is not exempt from global warming and the higher temperatures recorded increase the probability of fires.
  • Last but not least, another environmental problem of the Chaco forest biome is that it presents a long list of invasive species that compete with local biodiversity and in many cases end up displacing them. In this article you will learn about 12 invasive species in Argentina .

Conservation of the Chaco forest

The conservation of the Chaco forest is urgent and essential: the human settlements that inhabit the area are being severely affected by ecosystem degradation and, as if that were not enough, many species of native flora and fauna are in danger of extinction.

Faced with this situation, it is worth highlighting the existence of more than 7 protected areas , between national parks and nature reserves, which are destined to the conservation of some of the different environments that the Chaco region presents. Fortunately, in those areas, multiple species reintroduction and ecosystem restoration projects are being developed .

Despite this, there are no strong regulations that prohibit or, at least, limit the deforestation of the remnants (remnants of an ecosystem that is in a state of regression due to natural or human causes) of the Chaco forest, and neither controls and restrictions that sanction the those who are dedicated to hunting and illegal trafficking of species or who intentionally cause fires.

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