The Gran Chaco is South America’s second-largest forest, comprising around 648,000 square kilometers (250,000 square miles) and stretching over portions of Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina (as well as a corner of Brazil). Compared to the Amazon rainforest, its bigger, more famous counterpart to the north, the Chaco is dry, sparse and hot, with parts looking more like savannah than forest. Despite its seeming harshness, the Chaco is highly biodiverse, home to some 4,270 different species, many found nowhere else in the world.
But this unique biome is quickly disappearing, with an estimated 20 percent loss of its forest cover since 1985 as trees are cleared for pasture and cropland. The situation is worse for Argentina’s portion of the Chaco, 30 percent of which has been converted for agriculture.