It is located to the north of Itapúa department and to the south of Caazapá, about 450 kilometers from Asunción. It crosses the districts: Tabaí, San Juan Nepomuceno and Yuty, in Caazapá, and San Rafael del Paraná, Tomás Romero Pereira, Edelira, Itapua Poty, Alto Verá and San Pedro del Paraná, in Itapúa department.
In 1992 the place was designated national park and in March of 2002 it was elevated to the category of Reserve of Manageable Resources. It extends for 73,000 hectares and is part of the 15 ecological regions of the Bosque Atlántico del Alto Paraná (Atlantic Forest of Alto Paraná).
In San Rafael is the largest fresh water reserve: The Guaraní Aquifer.
Different animal species have been identified in the reserve: 52 species of fishes, 4 of retiles, 61 of mammals and 500 of invertebrates.
The area is considered the “most important bird area” because it have been identified 392 species of birds in the reserve, some of them are the campana bird (bell bird, the national bird of Paraguay) and the chopí saiyú.
In the San Rafael Cordillera flow the rivers Tebicuary and Pirapó, which water the areas dedicated to the agriculture. In the region are rivers, streams, waterfalls and water springs.
Many rivers and other water sources flow to the rivers: Paraguay and Paraná. The Tebicuary River is the most important tributary in the left margin of the Paraguay River, it flows from the Yvyturuzú Cordillera and crosses through Caaguazú and San Rafael; it extends for about 654 kilometers. A fire in this are in 2005-2006 affected 1,850 hectares.
322 different species of plants can be found in the park, which means 4.6% of the total Paraguayan flora and the 7.2% of the flora in the Oriental Region. There are a great variety of: lapacho, cedro, laurel, incenso and guajaivi. The national tree is the lapacho, which can reach more or less 30 meters and that can have yellow or pink flowers. The incense with its yellow flowers spread a beautiful smell in the forest, as well as the ferns and orchids.
Paraguayan laws for the preservation of natural resources:
Law No. 352/94 "Protected Wild Areas"
Article No. 4.- A Protected Wild Area is every part of the national territory that is within well defined limits, of natural characteristics and resources that can be managed to guarantee the preservation and improvement of the natural environment. The Protected Wild Areas can be within national, departmental, municipal or private domain. The use of the resources and activities allowed in the area must be in compliance with this law and its dispositions.
Law No. 2524/04 "Prohibition in the Oriental Region of activities that would transform the forests"
Article No. 1.- The purpose of this law is to favor the protection, recuperation and improvement of the native forest in the Oriental Region. In this law, it will be understood as “Wild Life” the individuals, parts and products that belong to fauna and flora species that temporarily or permanently inhabit the national territory, including the ones managed by men.
Law No. 96/92 "Wild Life"
Article No. 1.- The Authority of Implementation will publish the list of species that would be excluded in the regulations of this law. Article No. 2.- This law will understand as wild fauna all animals, vertebrates and invertebrates that in isolation on in joined way, temporarily or permanently, live in the national territory. Article No. 3.- This law will understand as wild flora all the vegetables, superior or inferior, that temporarily or permanently grow in the national territory, in order for the forest to accomplish its environmental function contributing to the improvement of the quality of life of the Paraguayan citizens.