Business

In Paraguay, rural communities facing deforestation see power – and profit – in a beloved drink

paraguay Mate is usually drunk from a gourd with a filtered metal straw.
Mate is usually drunk from a gourd with a filtered metal straw. Photo: Shutterstock

The Atlantic Forest, a vast swath of well-watered and biodiverse woodland, once covered much of eastern South America. But after three decades of massive deforestation to make way for intensive soybean production and cattle ranching, this enormous tropical forest has been decimated. As in the Amazon, fires have consumed thousands of acres of protected land in Paraguay since July alone.

Only 2 million acres of Atlantic Forest remain of the more than 20 million acres that once grew in eastern Paraguay. Given the profit to be made from farming this area, conserving what’s left of Paraguay’s forests must...

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