ParLu
WWF Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety

THE PANTANAL

Introduction

The Pantanal is the largest and one of the best preserved wetlands in the world. It covers three countries: Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay and has an area of ??approximately 624.320km2, of which 19% is located in the western region of Paraguay. This complexity creates a heterogeneous landscape with a great diversity of flora and fauna.

This rich diversity is demonstrated by the presence of 4,700 species of plants and vertebrates, including 656 species of birds. Also, the Pantanal is known for its concentration of large mammals such as the maned wolf, better known as the aguará guazú, the giant armadillo, the giant otter, the jaguar and the anteater.

The vegetation consists of flooded savannas or swamps, ponds, dammed, beaches and sandbars, where karanday palm groves and quebracho forests predominate.

Like all freshwater ecosystems, the Pantanal is an interdependent unit that should be considered in its entirety. Any adverse event in one place is likely to cause an impact on the rest.

WWF Paraguay through ParLU, works with local organizations such as Guyra Paraguay to support projects that generate valuation mechanisms of this precious but fragile ecosystem that is threatened by the expansion of agriculture and livestock.

Importance of the Pantanal

Pantanal conservation in Paraguay is of great importance not only locally, but also globally because of the extensive biodiversity of the region. The Pantanal provides environmental services such as purification of water sources, protection of land resources, habitat for plants and animals, biological control and regulation of hydrological processes and climate regulation. Its importance for the livelihoods of the indigenous communities living there also needs to be taken into account.

Main threats

One threat for the Pantanal eco-region is deforestation due to increased demand for food, especially cattle meat, also the low value attributed to forests and the lack of good production practices for agricultural production, make this number increases.

According to the report of deforestation by the organization Guyra Paraguay, in October 2013, of the 64,949 ha of forests, Argentina recorded the highest rate of deforestation, 49% of clearing areas followed by Paraguay with 47% and Bolivia with 4%, all due to agricultural development. In the specific case of Paraguay, the deforestation rate was an average of 989 ha.

Pantanal lands

Indigenous people and small producers

This area is also important for the communities who live there, belonging to the linguistic family Zamuco of the Ayoreo, Chamacoco Ybytoso, Chamacoco Tomárána and Chamacoco Yshiro race. According to Morales et al. (2006) these cultures are strongly influenced by the dynamics of the river.

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Current and future situation of the Pantanal

The biggest challenge is to generate positive incentives to increase land conservation and increase the implementation of good manufacturing practices in the livestock sector, so it reduces the impact of livestock and agricultural expansion in the area. Regarding institutional capacities this is a critical point as it needs to strengthen the presence of institutions governing environmental and forestry frameworks in the area. The Pantanal is one of the few major eco-regions that are in a relatively good state of conservation; however the area has already been pointed as the new hub of livestock and agricultural development, which is why it becomes urgent to unite efforts and to establish mechanisms to regulate both productive and conservation activities.

Regulatory framework

The Pantanal region does not have a legal instrument banning deforestation, therefore deforestation activities are lawful as long as an environmental license is provided, which is regulated by law 294/93. However, the law 3001/06 of payments for environmental services can become the mechanism to preserve forests through the sale of certificates of environmental services. In this regard, WWF is working with its partners to launch and implement the system of payments for environmental services in the region.

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