Movement seeks to protect the waters in the largest wetlands region of the world
It hasn’t been in place for long, but it has already achieved hundreds of results. This week WWF-Brazil is commemorating three years of the “Pantanal Headwaters Pact”, a movement that aims to protect the waters of the planet’s largest wetland. Over this short period of time, a wide variety of conservation and recuperation actions have been carried out at the Pantanal headwaters in Mato Grosso, the at-risk region where the waters that feed into the planet’s largest wetland originate (find out more in the article to the side). All of these focused on springs and the Jaurú, Sepotuba, Cabaçal and Paraguai rivers in the Alto Paraguai River Basin, one of the most important for the Pantanal and its survival.
The numbers are encouraging: 126 springs are in the process of being recovered, 7 forest nurseries have been opened, over 150 kilometres of rural roads have been environmentally adapted, two municipalities – Mirassol D’Oeste and Tangará da Serra – have been selected by the National Water Agency (ANA) to receive funding for the implementation of the Payment for Environmental Services (PES), over 40 families have benefitted with the installation of environmentally-friendly septic tanks in rural areas, hundreds of educational talks have been given in municipal and state schools teaching children and adolescents the need to care, preserve and recycle and dozens of actions to clean up rivers have been held, with 8 tons of waste being removed in 2018 alone.
Conservation analyst for WWF-Brazil, Breno Melo, highlights the importance that all of the partners involved get involved in order to enable the implementation of these actions. “This movement created by WWF-Brazil and supported by us for over six years is extremely important for the Pantanal, not just because of the conservation being carried out to its rivers and springs, but also as it was and still is capable of engaging the different actors that are relevant to this biome,” states Melo. “Forty-nine bodies are currently involved in this movement, including civil society organisations, city halls and corporations. This variety of actors and actions is the gift that the region’s local population offers to the Pantanal. And as the creators of this project, us at the WWF have a lot of pride in what has already been achieved and in the potential for conservation that we have ahead of us,” he concludes.
Thanks to cross-cutting actions by all of the entities involved in the pact, two River Basin Committees have been created – for the Cabaçal and Jaurú rivers. “These two connected organisms are extremely important for the quality and quantity of water in the Pantanal. This represents a victory,” celebrates Melo. “We should also highlight that many of the 25 municipalities that are involved in the pact have created municipal environment councils and solid waste plans along these three years. These are significant results that will have a very positive impact in the medium and long term,” states the WWF-Brazil analyst.
How it all began
It all began with a warning. In 2012, a study named “Ecological Risk Assessment for the Paraguay River Basin” by WWF-Brazil and its partners identified that areas of the Pantanal Headwaters – where the water that feeds into the planet’s largest wetland originates – were at significant risk and required urgent recuperation and conservation actions. Since then, the need has arisen to create a project to look after the rivers and springs in this region. Three years later, in 2015, the Pantanal Headwaters Pact was officially launched by WWF-Brazil and the Mato Grosso State government.
What is the Pantanal Headwaters Pact?
After an at-risk water “producing” region had been identified, WWF-Brazil and its local partners in Mato Grosso held dozens of meetings and established a total of 34 conservation actions, including alternative solutions to solve the region’s problems. Since then, all of the entities adhering to the pact have voluntarily committed to implementing at least three actions to preserve rivers and springs in their local area.
These actions include everything from the environmental adaptation of rural roads by 2020, improvements to basic sanitation in rural areas through the installation of environmentally-friendly septic tanks and the recovery of degraded areas and Areas of Permanent Protection (APPs), to the development of studies, research, best practice and appropriate land use leaflets and the promotion of events to exchange positive experience related to environmental recuperation.
The area covered by the past spans 25 municipalities in Mato Grosso: Alto Paraguai, Araputanga, Arenápolis, Barra do Bugres, Cáceres, Curvelândia, Denise, Diamantino, Figueirópolis D´Oeste, Glória D´Oeste, Indiavaí, Jauru, Lambari D’Oeste, Mirassol D’Oeste, Nortelândia, Nova Marilândia, Nova Olímpia, Porto Esperidião, Porto Estrela, Reserva do Cabaçal, Rio Branco, Santo Afonso, São José dos Quatro Marcos, Salto do Céu and Tangará da Serra.