ASUNCION – Paraguay’s “Colossi of the Earth Contest,” a search for the nation’s tallest trees, seeks to honor five specimens of species endemic to the country’s Eastern Region in order to encourage ties between man and nature, while slyly slamming deforestation.
The five winning trees, to be announced next Thursday, were selected from among 261 specimens whose measurements were presented by citizens to the contest organized by the NGO A Todo Pulmon Paraguay (Full Steam Ahead Paraguay).
Among the “colossi” that came out on top is a 600-year-old tree that was growing “before the conquistadors came here,” the executive director of A Todo Pulmon Paraguay, Victor Ibarrola, told EFE.
Ibarrola said that a team of 50, including experts from Paraguay’s leading universities, traveled some 2,200 kilometers (1,370 miles) around the Eastern Region for five days to make sure the measurements of the finalist trees were accurate.
For a tree to be honored as a “colossus,” the contest establishes a minimum height of 20 meters (65 feet) and a trunk that exceeds 3 meters (10 feet) in diameter.
In each of the 18 places where there is a finalist tree, whether in a community, in the patio of a house or along a highway, the inhabitants got together to provide many stories about them.
Ibarrola said the contest is basically aimed at raising awareness among the population about the need to preserve the country’s environment and stop deforestation.
Paraguay is currently the sixth country in the world for deforestation, with a loss of 320,000 hectares (790,000 acres) annually, despite the fact that in the Eastern Region where this edition of the contest is focused, logging trees has been banned since 2004 thanks to the Law of Zero Deforestation.