Fact-Finding Tour, January 2000

From January 6 to January 10, 2000, the World Conference on Preservation and Sustainable Development in the Pantanal conducted a special fact-finding tour to the Pantanal area of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil.  Leading the delegation of U.S. and international dignitaries were Dr. Noel Brown, former North American Director of the United Nations Environment Program, and the Honorable Larry Pressler (U.S. Senate, 1979-1997), former Chairman of the Environment Committee of the United States Senate. 

The delegation also included Mr. Jonathan B. Tourtellot, Editor of National Geographic Traveler magazine; Dr. Thomas Crisman, Director of the Center for Wetlands of the University of Florida;Press conference Dr. Marcelo Alonso, Chairman of the first World Conference on Preservation and Sustainable Development in the Pantanal and former Scientific Director with OAS; Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, Chairman of the Board of the World University Federation, as well as Chairman of the Board of News World Communications (the international newspaper and magazine conglomerate that publishes The Washington Times and Tiempos del Mundo, among others); Dr. Juan Maria Carron, former Senator of Paraguay and an authority on the Paraguayan Tour planesPantanal; Dr. Thomas J. Ward, Visiting Professor of International Studies at the University of Bridgeport; and Dr. Frederick A. Swarts, Secretary General of the World Conference on Preservation and Sustainable Development in the Pantanal. 

In addition to the WCPSDP, co-sponsors of the tour included the office of the Governor of Mato Grosso do Sul, the Environment Committee of the Legislative Assembly of Mato Grosso do Sul, and the city of Corumbá.  Deputy Paulo Corrêa, Chairman of the Environment Committee for the State, was instrumental in making arrangements for this tour, in an effort to expose the international community to the ecological riches of the Pantanal and its potential for ecotourism. 

Accompanying the tour from the Brazilian side were Egon Krakhecke, State Secretary of the Environment; Major Angelo Rabelo, Secretary of the Environment and Tourism for the City of President of UNIDERP, Senator Pressler, Dr. AlonsoCorumbá; Heitor Miranda, Coordinator of Public Policies and International Relations; Vania Nunes, Representative of Embrapa-Pantanal; Ms. Nilde Clara de Souza Benites Brun, Secretary of Tourism for the state of Mato Grosso do Sul; Junior Mochi, Mayor of the City of Coxim; Abadio Baird, Director of COINTA (Committee for the Integrated Management of the Taquari River Basin); Roberto Coelho of SODEPAN (Society for the Defense of the Pantanal); Ozorio Miranda, City Legislator for Porto Murtinho and Coordinator of the Bi-national Association for the Defense of the Pantanal; and Valmir Ortega, Director of the State Office of the Environment; among others.  Various federal and state deputies, and local officials joined the delegation at various points on the way.  Deputy Paulo Correa guided the tour.

The fact-finding tour included a visit to Campo Grande and Corumbá, and a fly-over of the length of troubled Taquari River from the highlands to its confluence with the Paraguay River. On January 8, the Embrapa-Pantanal offices in Corumbá was the scene for a briefing on the situation of the Taquari Area near Pantanal National ParkRiver, which has been experiencing severe degradation over the past 10 years, due to heavy sedimentation, which many authorities attribute to erosion in the highlands. (The impact on the Taquari resulting from changes in the hydrology of the Paraguay River itself also needs to be assessed.) This briefing involved participation of local authorities, key stakeholders, government researchers, and leaders of non-governmental organizations.  Tour participant Dr. Thomas Crisman, Director of the Center for Wetlands, provided expert commentary on the escalating sedimentation of the Taquari River, having examined this river twice previously during the preceding 10 years. 

The tour also included a special briefing in Campo Grande with the Governor of Mato Grosso do Sul, Mr. Jose Orcirio Miranda dos Santos, a visit to the Company Cinco Bacia (Inter-American Company for Navigation and Commerce) in Corumbá, a visit to Acurizal Ranch and to Fazenda Sao Bento in northern Mato Grosso do Sul, and a flyover of Pantanal National Park in the state of Mato Grosso.  The state government of Mato Grosso do Sul provided five 4-passenger planes for the aerial tour. The timing of the visit proved most interesting.  Normally a time of high water, the region instead was experiencing a drought, to the extent that two days after the tour the Secretary of the Environment for the State, Egon Krakhecke, imposed an additional one-month moratorium on commercial fishing and sportfishing, due to the drought delaying the normal spawning activities which correlate with the period of flooding.

Press conference, January 7
Dr. Noel Brown, Dr. Marcelo Alonso, Dr. Fred Swarts, Deputy Paulo Correa, 
Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, Dr. Thomas Crisman, Senator Larry Pressler
Meeting at Governor's officeDinner at Paulo Correa's Residence
(left) Egon Krakhecke, Secretary of the Environment; Senator Larry Pressler, Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, Governor Zeca, Dr. Fred Swarts
(right) Senator Pressler, Governor Zeca, Paulo Correa, Ozorio Miranda dos Santos

Thursday, January 6, 2000

Departures from New York City, Washington, D.C., and Miami, Florida
Friday, January 7

Arrival in Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil
 3:00pm  Press Conference at Hotel Jandaiai
 6:30pm Meeting with the Governor of Mato Grosso (the Honorable Jose Orcirio Miranda dos Santos) and select officials
  8:00pm Dinner at the residence of Mr. Paulo Correa, Chairman of the Environment Committee of Mato Grosso do Sul
Saturday, January 8


7:30am Tour of Campo Grande
9:00am Departure to Corumba, fly over of the troubled Taquari River
11:30am Arrival in Corumba (Hotel Nacional)
12:30pm Luncheon with local officials
4:30pm Visit to Company Cinco Bacia
5:30pm Briefing at Embrapa-CPAP
8:00pm Dinner
Sunday, January 9


8:00pm Departure from airport to Fazenda Acurizal, flying over the Pantanal National Park
11:30am Departure from Fazenda Acurizal for Fazenda Sao Bento
12:00pm Lunch at Sao Bento
1:00pm Boat and land tours of fauna and flora
4:00pm Departure for Corumba
8:00pm Dinner
Monday, January 10


8:00am Boat Tour in Corumba area
11:00am Lunch
1:00pm Departures for United States

Dr. Juan Maria Carron and Heitor Miranda dos Santo
Senator Juan Maria Carron (Paraguay) and Heitor Miranda dos Santos 
(General Coordinator of Strategic Actions and International Affairs)

Dr. Marcelo Alonso, Dr. Noel Brown, Mr. Hideo Oyamada (aquaculturist), 
and Jonathan B. Tourtellot


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