The Amazon rainforest is the largest ecosystem in South America; it is the one that drew me into the study of geography. I know quite a lot about it, though I still have plenty to learn.
|Three-banded armadillo is one of 150 mammal species|
in the Gran Chaco. Image: WWF
I know very little, however, about the second-largest ecosystem of South America: the Gran Chaco of Paraguay, Argentina, and Bolivia. It is also second in biodiversity, with over 500 species of birds alone.
|Map: Wikipedia. Chaqu is a Quechua word meaning |
"hunting land" and hinting at the region's diverse fauna.
I have even more to learn about it, especially as both the land and the people of the Gran Chaco are threatened by rapid changes related to the opening of a bioceanic transportation corridor. The Amazon experience is, sadly, instructive -- rapid expansion of roads is bringing all manner of peril. In both cases, heretofore uncontacted civilizations are at greatest risk.
|Detail from an interactive map at Corredor Bioceanico, a website promoting the project.|
The Gran Chaco is being traversed by road, rail, and river.