Implications of recent large-scale land use change in the Paraguayan Chaco

The Paraguayan Chaco has seen significant land use change since 2004. WaterWorld (v2.91) is used to assess the current distribution of water resources and water stress in Chile, Argentina and Paraguay alongside the impacts of recently observed land cover and use change on these water resources alongside the impacts of a scenario for continued land use change.

Baseline hydrology

Baseline hydrology for the Chaco indicates a complex spatial distribution of water balance that is the outcome of wind-driven rainfall minus actual evapotranspiration plus some fog and meltwater inputs.

Impacts of recent land use change

Application of the observed deforestation since 2004 results in increases in water balance because of reduced evapotranspiration under the deforested areas, leading to increases in flows for most deforested areas . Gross soil erosion also increases, especially in the mountainous zones and the human footprint on water quality also increases with implications locally and downstream, potentially affecting supplies to a number of urban areas and in the watersheds of dams.