It is quite funny living in Brazil sometimes, for it is still quite amazing for me to be living in such close proximity to so many diverse natural regions. Maria and I are in Corumbá visiting family and friends. Corumbá is where Maria was born and grew up, and it is gateway to one of the most important, bio-diverse and complex ecosystems on the planet. Today we had the opportunity to take a short boat trip along the River Paraguay, and you can see the photos below.
Tomorrow we are going to visit the Museum of the History of the Pantanal, which I have been learning about. Rather than have me tell you about it, I thought I would share a few extracts from the very informative site of the Waterland Research Institute which has offices in Brazil and the US.
“The Pantanal of South America is one of the most immense, pristine and biologically rich environments on the planet. Often referred to as the world’s largest freshwater wetland system, it extends through millions of hectares of central-western Brazil, eastern Bolivia and eastern Paraguay. With its extraordinarily concentrated and diverse flora and fauna, and a landscape spanning a variety of ecological sub-regions, the Pantanal stands as one of the world’s great natural wonders.”
“This area is an unparalleled wildlife sanctuary of spectacular beauty, an ecological paradise containing hundreds of species of birds, thousands of varieties of butterflies, myriads of brightly colored flowers, and shoals of fish. Capuchin and Howler monkeys, capybaras, toucans, anacondas, caimans and tapirs help create an aquatic and sylvan theater of sights and sounds. The endangered jaguar, and increasingly rare Hyacinthine macaws and giant river otters, all make their home in the Pantanal.”
“The Pantanal also provides incalculable economic benefits. It offers a huge area for water purification and groundwater discharge and recharge, climate stabilization, water supply, flood abatement, and an extensive, transport system, among numerous other important functions. And yet, despite the region’s beauty and remarkable environmental and economic value, the Pantanal remains poorly known and faces an uncertain future stemming from a myriad of socioeconomic pressures. The Florida Everglades is a stark reminder of how quickly even a major wetland system can experience devastating ecological and economic consequences when there are poor management responses to such pressures. The Everglades system declined catastrophically in just 50 years. While the Pantanal remains comparatively untouched, without correct understanding, timely action and wise management, its future could be seriously compromised.”
“With its variety of ecological landscapes, from terrestrial forests to seasonally inundated grasslands to perennial lakes, the Pantanal is a “complex of ecosystems.” From area to area, it exhibits a wide diversity in terms of its community of organisms and the controlling environment. The Pantanal is thus commonly delineated into several distinct sub-regions, based on various ecological, geopolitical and physiomorphological aspects.
The Pantanal is also a dynamic system which can show substantial changes from year to year. This wide variety of ecological sub-regions, seasonal cycles and successional changes, combined with abundant water and high primary productivity, contribute to the Pantanal being one of the most remarkable and biologically diverse systems on the planet.”