That Charcoal You Use to Barbeque? It May Come from A Threatened Forest in Paraguay

Some popular brands of charcoal sold in Europe and the United States are made from wood felled in one of the world’s most threatened forests, the dry tropical woodlands of Paraguay’s Chaco region, according to an investigation by a U.K.-based environmental group.

The group, Earthsight, said that the Chaco region — which every two weeks is losing forested areas roughly the size of Manhattan — has become an important source of charcoal for Paraguay’s largest charcoal exporter, Bricapar. That charcoal is being sold to supermarkets in the U.S. and the European Union, including major European chains such as Carrefour, Aldi, and Lidl. In the U.S., some of the Paraguayan charcoal is being sold under the brand name “Jealous Devil” by Amazon and Ebay, the report said.

The report said that cattle ranching is the main source of deforestation in the Chaco, which is home to many of Paraguay’s 110,000 indigenous people. Paraguay now has 13 million head of cattle and hopes to expand that number to 20 million by 2020. Many of those felled trees are then turned into charcoal by cooking them in kilns. The Earthsight report said that although some Paraguayan charcoal exporters advertise their product as coming from the Chaco, distributors in Europe and the U.S. do not.