Mbaracayú Forest Natural Reserve and Bosque Mbaracayú Biosphere Reserve (Paraguay)
Both the Mbaracayú Forest Natural Reserve and the Bosque Mbaracayú Biosphere Reserve protect a hotspot of biodiversity in the Mata Atlántica biologic corridor. It is a tropical humid forest ecosystem, which includes low and medium altitude Atlantic semi-deciduous forests and savannas.
Mbaracayú Forest Natural Reserve
The Mbaracayú Forest Natural Reserve (MFNR), located in the Canindeyú Department of northeastern Paraguay was created by the Government of Paraguay in 1991, in response to the rapid loss of the Upper Parana Atlantic Forest ecoregion.
The Mbaracayú Forest Nature Reserve consists of 64,400 ha (159,000 acres), located in the eastern region of Paraguay near the Brazilian border, an area with small landholdings and numerous cattle ranching establishments, within the Mbaracaya Range. The MFNR is one of the largest protected areas in Paraguay containing the Atlantic Forest.
Mbaracayú is located within the humid subtropical forest of eastern Paraguay, part of the Interior Atlantic Forest of southeastern Brazil, northeastern Argentina, and eastern Paraguay.
It is the largest continuous remnant of the IAF in Paraguay. The annual average temperature is between 21'C to 22°C, and the total annual precipitation is 1,800 mm.
The Mbaracaya Range runs northeast/southeast, crossing the northeastern corner of the Reserve. This area is composed of numerous small but deep valleys with recurrent waterfalls creating hundreds of small tributaries towards the Jeju River basin.
Different forest types cover almost 88% of the Reserve and the remainder consists of wetlands, pasture lands, lagoons, rivers, and Cerrado vegetation. The forest is divided into three different types: tall, medium, and low.
The tall forest generally has a significant amount of humidity, with few areas containing little or no amount of water. Many tall canopy trees are good quality lumber and can measure up to 30-35 m (98-115 ft).
The low forests vary; some are quite far from the watercourses while others are periodically or almost permanently flooded. The Riparian forest borders the Jejui-mi River and is susceptible to periodic floods that can be very severe after days of intense rain.
The watershed surrounding the reserve (Upper Watershed of the Rio Jejui) was established as a Biosphere Reserve, a region containing both protected wild areas and sustainable development zones to support conservation and development functions.
Bosque Mbaracayú Biosphere Reserve
The Bosque Mbaracayú Biosphere Reserve was Paraguay's first Biosphere Reserve. Designated in 2000, it corresponds to a hotspot of biodiversity in the continental part of the Mata Atlántica’s biologic corridor.
Bosque Mbaracayú covers a tropical humid forest ecosystem type, which includes low-altitude, medium-altitude, and inundated Atlantic semi-deciduous forests and savannas with palm trees, dry forests, tropical savannah, and pasturelands.
Major habitats and land cover types include:
low altitude Atlantic Forest, characterized by Astronium fraxinifolium, Aspidosperma polyneuron, Tabebuia heptaphylla, Albizia hassleri, etc.
medium altitude Atlantic Forest, dominated by Copaifera langsdorfii, Syagrus romanzoffiana, Cedrela spp., etc.
inundated Atlantic Forest, dominated by Gomidesia palustris and Calyptranthes concina
savannas with palm trees such as Butia paraguayensis, Acrocomia hassleri and Syagrus sp.
urban and industrial areas
More than 16,000 people (2000), including indigenous and local peasants, live in the buffer zone and are engaged in agriculture, hunting, logging, fishing, tourism, and commerce activities. Only 6% of the population has access to potable water services.
In the transition area, more than 96,800 inhabitants live in urban and industrial areas and develop forest exploitation of the native forest, regulated by the provincial authorities.
The management and administration of the biosphere reserve are undertaken by a private foundation. The GEF-World Bank project for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use in Mbaracayú is being developed in the Bosque Mbaracayú Biosphere Reserve since February 2003.
Local populations have been involved in the biosphere reserve project from the start and they are also involved in interdisciplinary research projects on the conservation of natural areas and resources.
Local awareness programs have also been developed to promote management practices for the sustainable use of natural resources such as agro-forestry, enrichment of degraded forests, the establishment of subsistence cultivation, capacity building, etc.