Excerpted From:  Swarts, Frederick, "The Pantanal in the 21st Century: For the Planet's Largest Wetland, an Uncertain Future" in The Pantanal of Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay (Hudson MacArthur 2000). Copyright 2000 by Waterland Research Institute.

Protected areas in the Pantanal

A contributing risk factor in the Brazilian Pantanal is the fact that there is very little formally protected area. In the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, where most of the Brazilian Pantanal is located, not a single federal or state park exists. In the northern state of Mato Grosso, there is one relatively small national park, Parque Nacional do Pantanal Mato-grossense (Pantanal National Park), which has about 135,000 hectares. There is also the Taiamã Ecological Station, consisting of about 11,000 hectares. These remain the only official government-protected areas in the entire Brazilian Pantanal. 

Brazil's Parque Nacional do Pantanal Matogrossense was established by federal decree in September of 1981, when it was converted from the smaller, former Cará-cará Biological Preserve. It is located at 17o 39'S 57o 25W in the western part of Mato Grosso on the border with Bolivia, and in the county (município) of Pocone. In May of 1993, Pantanal National Park was designated by Brazil for inclusion on the Ramsar list of Wetlands of International Importance. 

Notably, in 1995, the Nature Conservancy, in cooperation with the Brazilian conservation organization Ecotrópica, purchased two ecologically significant properties the 26,718 hectare Dorache Ranch on the northeast border of Pantanal National Park, and the 13,665 hectare Acurizal Ranch on the southwest border in order to expand the size and diversity of protective habitat around this preserve. Ecotrópica likewise holds title on the 13,409 hectare Penha Ranch on the Pantanal National Park's southern border adjacent to the Acurizal Ranch. In 1997, these 53,000 hectares were officially designated Private Reserves of National Heritage RPPN, "Reserva Particular do Patrimônio Natural" by IBAMA, substantially increasing the preserved areas of the Pantanal. 

In addition to Ecotrópica's three properties, as of January 1998, seven other properties were officially in RPPN status, totaling around 77,500 hectares. This brings the total preserved areas in Brazil national, state and private to about 2 percent of the Brazilian Pantanal. Ninety-eight percent of the Brazilian Pantanal is privately owned. 

The Bolivian Pantanal has considerably more protected area. Montaño (1999) affirms that 90 percent or more of the Bolivian Pantanal has some degree of legal protection, and substantial portions are inside of two recently created federally protected areas. The first is the Otuquis Pantanal National Park Parque Nacional Pantanal de Otuquis and contiguous Otuquis Natural Area of Integrated Management ANMI Qtuquis: Área Natural de Manejo Integrado Otuquis which occupies 1,005,950 hectares total (903,350 hectares and 102,600 hectares, respectively). The second is the San Matías Natural Area of Integrated Management ANMI San Matías: Área Natural de Manejo Integrado San Matías which totals 2,918,500 hectares. These two protected zones, established in 1997, were designed not only to safeguard the Pantanal but also the greater basin, including a variety of other environments such as subhumid Chaco forests, dry forests, and so forth. It is estimated that the surface area actually occupied by the Pantanal corresponds to about 12 percent of the San Matías protected area and 24 percent of the Otuquis protected area (Montaño 1999). Furthermore, the San Matías Natural Area of Integrated Management lies proximate to Pantanal National Park of Brazil, thus permitting the establishment of an extensive tract that will aid preservation efforts. 

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