Pantanal, the world’s largest (and most threatened) freshwater wetland, could be in for a reprieve.
Several countries have now signed an agreement which promises to care for and develop the Pantanal. Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay were involved in talks at the 8th World Water Forum, the outcome of which is a joint, ‘tri-national declaration for the conservation and sustainable development of the Pantanal‘.
The Parana River, which runs through the Pantanal, is a waterway shared by the three countries involved. Brazil’s Minister of the Environment, Sarney Filho, Carlos René Ortuño Yañez, the Bolivian Minister of the Environment and General Directorate of Protection and Conservation of Water Resources of the Secretary of the Environment of Paraguay, David Fariña all signed the agreement.
Maurício Voivodic, executive director of WWF-Brazil, has celebrated the move. “The Pantanal, like any natural area, knows no geopolitical bounds. Millions of people and unique biodiversity depend on the ecosystem services of this region,” he said in a recent press release, “In a scenario where 55% of the Pantanal’s headwaters have already been deforested, an initiative that calls for the integrated and transboundary management of water resources is fundamental for a peaceful and water secure future.”
The WWF posted further details about this natural phenomenon.
“Covering around 175,000 km2, the Pantanal is home to over 4000 species of plants and animals and supports millions people in rural communities and distant cities. However, just 4.6% of the Pantanal is protected in conservation areas and its headwaters, in particular, are at high risk. More than 55% of the Pantanal’s headwaters have already been deforested.
But the region faces other threats, including the lack of basic sanitation, low adoption of good ranching and agricultural practices, and the construction of canals for navigation.
“The Pantanal is one of the most important regions in the world in terms of services provided to humanity, and one of those regions that supplies food to the world,” said Lucy Aquino, director of WWF-Paraguay. “The challenge now is to advance the implementation of this notable agreement.”
The director of WWF-Bolivia, Samuel Sangueza added, “We celebrate this agreement as a decisive step in the integration of Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay in maintaining this ecosystem, which is fundamental for the welfare of more than 10 million people.”