Pantanal
 

The Pantanal has the greatest concentration of fauna in the Americas.  People outside Brazil know only the Amazon. . . it's a shame because the Pantanal is a very important ecological place.1
Dr. Maria Tereza Jorge Pádua, 
Former Director, Brazil's National Parks
Pantanal
In the center of the South American continent, south of the Amazon basin and east of the Andes, lies an immense landlocked river delta where annual floodwaters regularly rise several meters and then recede.  For the abundant and diverse plants and animals living there, the flood pulse in normal and life giving.

The Pantanal is one of our planet's most spectacular wetland systems.  The following information on this region is exerpted from "The Pantanal in the 21st Century: For the World's Largest Wetland, an Uncertain Future," by Frederick A. Swarts, which serves as the introduction to the book The Pantanal of Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay (Hudson MacArthur 2000).  This edited volume is a select collection of papers presented at the first and second World Conference on Preservation and Sustainable Development in the Pantanal.

Introduction  Description Diversity
Value and threats Protected areas Initiatives
References   Pantanal book
Introduction

The Pantanal of South America is one of the most immense, pristine and biologically rich environments on the planet. Often referred to as the world’s largest freshwater wetland system, it extends through millions of hectares of central-western Brazil, eastern Bolivia and eastern Paraguay. With its extraordinarily concentrated and diverse flora and fauna, and a landscape spanning a variety of ecological sub-regions, the Pantanal stands as one of the world’s great natural wonders.

This area is an unparalleled wildlife sanctuary of spectacular beauty, an ecological paradise containing hundreds of species of birds, thousands of varieties of butterflies, myriads of brightly colored flowers, and shoals of fish. Capuchin and Howler monkeys, capybaras, toucans, anacondas, caimans and tapirs help create an aquatic and sylvan theater of sights and sounds. The endangered jaguar, and increasingly rare Hyacinthine macaws and giant river otters, all make their home in the Pantanal. The Pantanal also provides incalculable economic benefits. It offers a huge area for water purification and groundwater discharge and recharge, climate stabilization, water supply, flood abatement, and an extensive, transport system, among numerous other important functions. And yet, despite the region’s beauty and remarkable environmental and economic value, the Pantanal remains poorly known and faces an uncertain future stemming from a myriad of socioeconomic pressures. The Florida Everglades is a stark reminder of how quickly even a major wetland system can experience devastating ecological and economic consequences when there are poor management responses to such pressures. The Everglades system declined catastrophically in just 50 years. While the Pantanal remains comparatively untouched, without correct understanding, timely action and wise management, its future could be seriously compromised.

  We have an attitude problem here. People watching television learn to care more for elephants or lions than the jaguar or giant river otter... they like Africa better than Brazil.2
Adalberto Eberhard, conservationist


Caimans


 


1. V. Banks, The Pantanal: Brazil's Forgotten Wilderness
(San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1991).
2.  V. Banks, Ibid., p. 177.

 

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