Pantanal Conservation Area
The Pantanal Conservation Area consists of a cluster of four protected areas with a total area of 187,818 ha. Located in western central Brazil at the south-west corner of the State of Mato Grosso, the site represents 1.3% of Brazil's Pantanal region, one of the world's largest freshwater wetland ecosystems. The headwaters of the region's two major river systems, the Cuiabá and the Paraguay rivers, are located here, and the abundance and diversity of its vegetation and animal life are spectacular.
2020 Conservation Outlook
Current state and trend of VALUES
Overall PROTECTION and MANAGEMENT
Again, the dilemma persists as long as main threats cannot be addressed at the site level but inevitably require responses at the regional, national and even international level.
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Description of values
Outstanding landscape beauty
Ongoing ecological processes
High biodiversity and large wildlife aggregations
Ongoing hydrological processes
The impacts add up to a considerable alteration of the natural flood regime and drainage patterns at a time when proposals to convert the Paraguay River into a major commercial shipping route raise even more fundamental question marks on the future of the Pantanal.
While there can be no doubt that the alien species change the communities and ecosystems, the impacts of most of these species on regional biodiversity are still largely unknown (Tomas et al., 2019).
Studies have found high levels of mercury (higher than 0.5 μg/g) in about half of the Cuiabá River fishes, which is beyond the international standard for contamination (Alho and Reis, 2017).
Local authorities estimate that 90% of fires in Pantanal are caused by human action (Wetlands International, 2020), however, these have intensified due to one of the worst droughts in history, recorded in the first quarter of 2020 (SOS Pantanal, 2020a). According to Wetlands International (2020), 1,031 fires were registered in the broader Pantanal region in this period, compared to 641 in 2019, representing an increase of 60%. This is related to the information published by WWF Brazil (2020), in which according to Embrapa Pantanal, the region's rainy season (November to March) registers a historical average of 810 mm for the period; however, from November 2019 to March 12, in 2020 it rained 350 mm, which corresponds to only 43% of the expected precipitation for the historical average. However, impacts on the World Heritage site itself specifically still need to be evaluated.
While tourism and recreational fishing are traditional activities in the Pantanal and they seem have positive contributions to conservation, if appropriate control and management measures are not taken, they could generate a high risk for the maintenance of the Complex's values.
Although these projects seem to be competing with each other (Tomas et al., 2019), and probably not all will be developed, their effects on the complex Pantanal’s ecosystem could be devastating, including habitat fragmentation and further incentivise land use change towards intensive agriculture or cattle ranching, with its consequences for biodiversity and ongoing ecological and hydrological processes.
However, there is a variety of environmental threats caused by the unregulated tourism itself that include resource consumption (e.g. overfishing), waste generation, infrastructure, and, by its very nature, increased people access to natural areas (Alho et al., 2019; Tomas et al., 2019; de Souza et al., 2017). Also, a lack of control in river vessel traffic has been identified, affecting the sites for nesting of birds on the sandy beaches during the drought, mainly due to the waves produced in the water. Finally, the practice of feeding wildlife to attract them close to the tourists, could potentially upset the balance of some populations (Alho et al., 2019).
The 2019 management effectiveness evaluation of the National Park indicates that three actions were proposed related to the values of the World Heritage Site (form the managing council, guarantee infrastructure for the performance of activities and carry out limits signposting), however, none has been performed and the feasibility of doing so is moderate to low (ICMBio, 2020a).
The Pantanal Biosphere Reserve Action Plan 2020 - 2023 was presented by the end of 2019 to members of the Mato Grosso State Biosphere Reserve Committee. The actions are focused on sustainable development, integration with public policies and programs, research development, financial sustainability, regional networks and inclusive themes. It includes more concrete actions to consolidate the biosphere reserve as a management area for conservation (Governo de Mato Grosso, 2019)
The National Park´s buffer zone determined 9 external strategic areas (ESA), dedicated to conservation and sustainable use, which are relevant for its interaction with the region, with specific rules, regulating the occupation and use of natural resources, aiming to protect the site values (IBAMA, 2003).
Regarding access to benefits, the Instituto Homem Pataneiro states that all the resources generated by the ecotourism practiced in the areas under its management in Amolar Mountains (including the three Private Reserve of Natural Heritage), will be reverted to the protection and conservation activities of these areas (IHP, 2020c).
However, in despite of Article 10 of the Brazilian Native Vegetation Protection Act, law number 12.651/2012, considering the Pantanal as a “restricted use” area, allowing “ecologically sustainable use”, the laws of the states in which the Pantanal Conservation Area is located are more flexible or contradictory in this sense, generating pressures in the change of land use (Tomas et al., 2019). Also, Schulz et al. (2017) suggest that environmental laws are often weakened in front of the influential agribusiness sector in the region.
While fishing is a use prohibited in the National Park, one exception applies to the artisanal professional fishing practiced by members of the Traditional Community of Barra do São Lourenço, previously registered by ICMBio, according to some specifications and permission. These permits are subject to the execution of the fisheries monitoring program conducted by ICMBio in partnership with the community, located in the Park’s buffer zone (MMA/ICMBio, 2019).
Additionally, there is an awareness program in place, the Pantanal Expedition 2019 carried out by the NGO SOS Pantanal, whose 5th phase was developed inside and around de Amolar Mountains, seeking to bring ties closer together and assist in promoting the sustainable development of the Pantanal (SOS Pantanal, 2020b).
As to Private Reserves, Instituto Homem Pataneiro promotes visits to conservation units in the Amolar Mountains and one accommodation facility for visitors is located in PRNH Acurizal, in which the only permitted activities are research, environmental education and ecotourism. Among the activities offered are hiking, visits to riverside communities, boat expeditions on the Paraguay River and in bays close to the lodging centers and a visit to the Pantanal Matogrossense National Park. The great advantage of ecotourism practiced in these areas is that all the resources generated by the visitation will be reverted to the protection and conservation activities of these areas (IHP, 2020c).
Additionally, Instituto Homem Pataneiro conducted since 2010, environmental monitoring in the Amolar Monuntains Protection and Conservation Network (AMPCN). Its objective is to monitor and evaluate the ecological processes that regulate the way of life of the fauna that inhabits the protected areas of the AMPCN. The monitoring records the occurrence of species, determines diversity hotspots, identifies areas subject to anthropic changes and seasonality of ecological processes as quantitative and qualitative evidence, in the areas of the National Park and Pantanal and AMPCN (PRNH Doroche, Rumo ao Oeste, Acurizal, Penha and Eng Eliezer Batista, in addition to areas not legally declared as conservation units) (IHP, 2020e).
Concerning fire monitoring, the portal Queimadas is continuously monitoring outbreaks of wildfires and forest fires detected by satellites, calculating and predicting vegetation fire risk, and registering updated information per biome and state, even with the chance to focus on protected areas (INPE, 2020).
However, is not clear how these research results and networking initiatives are being incorporated by the conservation units to support planning, management and decision-making to ensure that values are maintained over the long-term.
Again, the dilemma persists as long as main threats cannot be addressed at the site level but inevitably require responses at the regional, national and even international level.
Today, the few families that remain in the region of the Amolar Mountains, where the Complex is located, practice agriculture, fishing, livestock and extracting natural resources for their subsistence (Ecoa, n.d)
The Amolar Mountains Protection and Conservation Network (RPCSA) represents a good example of partnership between organizations that own land destined to conservation and socio-educational actions, giving opportunity to improve relationships between local people and stakeholders (IHP, 2020b). In this sense, Martins, da Silva and de Souza (2019) state that NGOs carry out interesting and necessary work with the community, which involves the management of the activities such as monitoring and inspection, firefighting, training, educational actions and assistance in national and international research projects. They also found that income generation contributed to the empowerment of women in the community.
While it is acknowledged that all factors negatively affecting provision of benefits (land use change, pollution, over exploitation, climate change and invasive species) are present to some extent in the site, is difficult to stablish its level of impact. However, it is likely that these factors continue to increase over time, due to the high dynamics of anthropogenic and economic intervention, which was previously mentioned in the assessment.
|№||Organization||Brief description of Active Projects||Website|
|1||Brazilian Fund for Biodiversity (FUNBIO)||Project “Conservation, Restoration and Management Strategies for the Caatinga, Pampa and Pantanal Biodiversity - Terrestrial GEF”. The Project takes place through three main strategies: 1. Consolidation of the National System of Conservation Units (SNUC), including the creation of new Conservation Units (UCs) and support for existing ones; 2. Recovery of native vegetation; and 3. National Action Plans for endangered species||
|2||WWF Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay||Project PASOS - Pantanal Sustainable Landscape, Cerrado and Chiquitano Dry Forest (2018-2021). Strategic objective: Contribute to the conservation of biodiversity, ecosystem services and cultural functions in the Cerrado, Pantanal and the Bosque Seco Chiquitano, to ensure a sustainable productive development and improve human wellbeing.||
|3||Instituto Homem Pantaneiro||The "Pantanal Headwaters" project aims to protect the springs and permanent preservation areas (APPs) of the Plateau region of the Upper Paraguay Basin (BAP). Several organizations joined the IHP / Rede do Amolar in this effort. With the help of geotechnology and field surveys, a diagnosis of the situation of these springs and APPs will be carried out. The Geopantanal Platform will systematize and make available, in a web environment, data from satellites combined with field data (environmental monitoring and research) from the region covered by the project.||
|4||Women of Pantanal (MUPAN)||“Corredor Azul” is a ten-year programme led by Wetlands International and funded by DOB Ecology. Its vision is that unique biodiversity and the well-being of millions of people living along the Corredor Azul are safeguarded by a healthy and connected wetland system. It is expected that by the end of this programme some 1 million hectares of wetlands will be under sustainable management, and production in 300,000 hectares will be guided by best production practices that avoid wetland degradation and loss. At 3,400 km in length, the Corredor Azul encompasses the fourth largest wetland system in the world, the heart of which is the Paraná River and the Paraguay River in South America.||
|5||Sustainability Institute||Environmental project “Animals from the Pantanal”. Project for Socio-Environmental Responsibility, sponsored by Petrobras, through the Petrobras Socio-environmental Program. The initiative works to increase the scientific knowledge and the preservation of important species of the Pantanal fauna, especially the Giant River Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis), fish, the various species of birds that use the rivers, and in the predators that depend on the river as the Jaguar, (Panthera onca) that lives on the banks of the Paraguay river.||
|6||33 civil society organizations of Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay||At the Pantanal Observatory, there are efforts and administrative cooperation combined for the capture and availability of information that helps to promote respect for socio-biodiversity in the region. This way, this organization aims to promote synergies between institutions and knowledge areas, providing scientific information and traditional knowledge to society, promoting training at various levels and providing the basis for processes of influence in decision making and public policies. This initiative is supported by the European Union.||
|7||Centro de Pesquisa do Pantanal (CPP) / Pantanal Research Center||The CPP is a non-profit research center dedicated to generate knowledge about wetlands so as to contribute to their sustainable use.||
|8||Embrapa Pantanal||Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, linked to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food Supply) has been operating a unit in the Brazilian Pantanal since 1975. The unit has generated a wealth of readily available information about the region.||
|9||Wildlife Conservation Society of Brazil (WCS-Brasil)||WCS-Brasil conducts research and monitoring in the Pantanal WCS. Publications include the Revista Ciência Pantanal.||
|10||Instituto Homem Pantaneiro||Various. For example, The Institute donated to the Jatobazinho School native fish species of the Pantanal. The Fish Culture project aims to decrease overfishing and increase family income, stimulating and training the population on fish farming.||
|11||REPAMS Incentive Programme for Private Protected Areas (Programa de Incentivo às RPPNs do Pantanal)||REPAMS is the association of owners of private protected areas in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul (MS). Along with several partners it runs a programme to create incentives for private protected areas among other activities.||
|12||WWF Brasil||WWF Brasil has a long history of involvement in the Pantanal. Important contributions include a conservation priority setting exercise for the Pantanal and the adjacent Brazilian Cerrado (WWF Brasil, 2015).||
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