Earth Science South America’s Vast Pantanal Wetland May

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by mscbkc070904, Mar 21, 2005.

  1. mscbkc070904

    mscbkc070904 Premium Member

    South America’s giant Pantanal wetlands, one of the world’s most bio-diverse ecosystems, is at growing risk from intensive peripheral agricultural, industrial and urban development – problems expected to be compounded by climate change, United Nations University (UNU) experts warn.

    Covering more than 165,000 square kilometers – an area roughly the size of Florida – in the heart of South America, the Pantanal is the world’s largest freshwater wetland. Altered by drainage projects starting in the 1940s to make way for development and agriculture, the Pantanal is of active interest to U.S. scientists for insights into the lost biodiversity of Florida’s famed Everglades.

    In marking World Water Day, 22 March, UNU notes that the Pantanal provides enormous environmental services by storing and purifying water, providing storm protection and flood mitigation, and stabilizing the local climate, particularly rainfall and temperature.

    Today, however, these services are compromised by the global problem of climate change. Meanwhile, local pollution, habitat destruction and narrowing migration corridors for many species are among the consequences of introducing intensive agriculture, modern cattle ranching, energy production, mining and other changes in land use in and around the Pantanal.

    “Without extremely careful integrated management, one of the planet’s greatest environmental treasures will be altered forever by human encroachment,” says Prof. Hans van Ginkel, UN Under Secretary-General and Rector of United Nations University.

    Rest of Report & Map